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I understand that topics such as religion, race, age, etc are off limits in an employer / employee interview. However, are such topics allowable for discussion between potential business partners?

I found a posting on Craigslist asking for a business partner. I responded, and I received back an email from the poster which linked to a few of their web pages on social networks so that I could 'see what sort of person they are' (in their words). The first link that I visited, their Google+ page, was extremely focused on the importance of religion in all aspects of their life. While I don't have a problem with anyone having their own beliefs, especially someone I'm just doing business with, I don't want to enter into a partnership that will be a constant attempted conversion, nor do I want issues to occur later if the business should flourish (for instance, providing any future employees health coverage that includes family planning).

What are the legalities surrounding what I can and cannot ask / talk about in my response?

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    This person sent you a link so you would know what kind of person he is. If someone wants you to know up front that he is very religious, he is telling you that he does not separate religion from business. It seems like you have your answer before you ask anything.
    – MJ6
    Jun 28, 2014 at 5:14
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    You didn't post many details, but this gives off a bit of a scam vibe. Scammers claiming to be religious in order to appear trustworthy isn't uncommon. Jun 28, 2014 at 22:01
  • don't want to enter into a partnership that will be a constant attempted conversion - then start it off with a short "Hey look buddy. I'm on this team, you're on that team. let's stick to weather and sports." Oh never bring politics in the chat eiter. Jun 30, 2014 at 16:44
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    Keep in mind that we can't really offer legal advice here; we're not lawyers, and laws differ greatly by location.
    – KatieK
    Jun 30, 2014 at 17:02

1 Answer 1

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For BUSINESS PARTNER, which is not a hiring relationship, I don't believe there are any legal restrictions on what criteria may or may not be used to determine who you like, respect, and trust enough to bet your business on.

Certainly a discussion of what effects they expect their beliefs to have on the policies of the proposed business is entirely legitimate, and if you don't like the answers you shouldn't sign on.

And before you sign ANYTHING you need to have lawyers involved... and at least one of them has to be paid by you so their obligation is to protect you.

(Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of the concept of someone advertising for a business partner in the first place. If they can't find one by working through their own networks, I'd consider that a warning flag.)

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    +1 for not finding a business partner on Craiglsist. Better to build a network through people you know to find a partner.
    – MJ6
    Jun 28, 2014 at 5:16
  • Thank you; I appreciate the comments. I would note, however, that many people don't have 'a network'. I work two jobs, for instance, plus take care of my family. What little time I do have outside that (maybe 5-10 hours per week) I'd rather spend building some new killer app than trying to figure out how to add new people to a business social circle. I think many are in my situation; we need something like CL to help us find others in our situation.
    – Nicholas
    Jun 28, 2014 at 19:12
  • Everyone has "a network." You have friends and co-workers. You can put out the word to them that you're looking for someone who (a) has the necessary skills and/or money and/or mindset and (b) is someone trustworthy and reasonable. If you haven't tried that first, you're cheating yourself. If you have, and haven't been able to find anyone who is interested even one or two friend-of-friend links removed -- which rapidly becomes a huge number of people -- I have to suspect that there may be something wrong with the proposal. Finally, if you're serious, I don't think CL is the right venue.
    – keshlam
    Jun 28, 2014 at 19:16
  • Soliciting co-workers risks the company finding out, which many (in the US) will interpret as a threat and could lead to a firing. Most friends and family members (a very small group) have stable jobs. There are many people out there who are out of work, or don't work full time for one reason or another, who would jump at the opportunity of starting an online business. But in terms of percentile that group is a very small portion of the population and I would guess many of us don't know a single one. I'm in that situation.
    – Nicholas
    Jun 28, 2014 at 23:43
  • Only if what you're doing competes with your company -- which most US workers have already signed agreements not to do. If that's your goal, then ask your co-workers to suggest friends of theirs who might be interested... and if they volunteer themselves, that's their decision, not your fault.
    – keshlam
    Jun 29, 2014 at 4:13

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