Via email, Lee asks:
I ran across a human rights article here and decided to do a little research myself.
I was looking up the discrimination law in NY. Found it.
Excerpt below —
2.(a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability or marital status of any person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from or deny to such person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, including the extension of credit, or, directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement, to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability or marital status, or that the patronage or custom thereat of any person of or purporting to be of any particular race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex or marital status, or having a disability is unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited.
The part that interested me was the word “creed” which MAY refer to religion but also refers to beliefs. If our beliefs are that going barefoot is healthier for us and gets us closer to nature and others should go barefoot…………then no public establishment can bar us from entry and service. Then again, I don’t have the inclination to be jailed or the resources to get out. SO, I may test this but not push it.
I hate to break it to you, but that would not work at all. Courts just never buy into these sorts of literal definitions of words. What they do is look at the context. And the context of that statute is religion. So, they would say that it would only count if it were part of your religion.
Even worse, they often limit those beliefs even if they are sincerely held religious beliefs. There was a famous case many years ago in which a religion clearly included the use of peyote in their beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court resolved that case by saying, “tough”. Admittedly, there has been subsequent legislation that has ameliorated that, but even that requires a “sincerely held religious belief”.
So, if push came to shove and you tried to challenge this in court, the court would inquire as to whether your going barefoot was a sincerely held religious belief. And unless you were a Franciscan monk, I strongly suspect they would hold that you did not have such a belief (even if you did). That’s the way these things work (screw the little guy!).
Here in Ohio those sorts of religious beliefs are protected a bit more strongly than in many other states. The seminal court case is Humphrey v. Lane. There they decided that restrictions meet a compelling state interest. However, again, the very first test is whether those beliefs are sincerely held. Unless one can demonstrate that in regards to going barefoot, the courts will find a way around it. In addition, it is my experience that courts will belief, on the flimsiest of excuses, that walking barefooted is horribly dangerous. And they will do so without any evidence to that effect. Because . . . they just know.
Bottom line: in most states, even the religious rationale is totally worthless.