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Belief v. Belief: Resolving LGBTQ Rights Conflicts in the Religious Workplace
American Business Law Journal  (IF1.533),  Pub Date : 2019-02-26, DOI: 10.1111/ablj.12135
Elizabeth Brown, Inara Scott

Employment disputes are increasingly centered on the conflicting moral and religious values of corporations, their employees, and their customers. These conflicts are especially challenging when they involve the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) employees and customers contraposed against the religious beliefs of corporations and their owners. When religious values compete with civil rights in the employment context, a complex web of legal protections renders the outcome unclear. Conflicts over these competing rights can involve a number of broad, thorny legal disputes, including those concerning the First Amendment and Title VII, fights between secular and religious beliefs, and competition between religious beliefs and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. This article illustrates the reasons for this growing tension between the beliefs of business owners and the beliefs of their employees. It explores recent conflicts between religion and rights in the workplace particularly in the context of LGBTQ rights, the ways in which state‐level regulation complicates these conflicts, and the potential impact of recent cases addressing these concerns. It also identifies examples of potential specific conflicts in the context of LGBTQ rights and suggests the principles that should guide the resolution of these cases, offering a framework for assessing the hierarchy that a court may use in resolving cases in which values conflict with rights in the workplace. Finally, it addresses some of the troubling implications that arise as a result of the resolution of the potential specific conflicts.