In Best Wood Judge Firewood and Tree Service v. U.S. Department of Transportation, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32405 (ED WI, March 25, 2011), a Wisconsin federal district court rejected a claim by the owner of a land clearing business that his free exercise rights were infringed when he was denied certification that would have made him eligible for a federally-funded Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. Owner Thomas Holzrichter claimed he was "socially disadvantaged" since he had consistently been denied subcontracts on Wisconsin Department of Transportation projects because neither he nor his employees were union members. Holzrichter claimed that he had strong moral and religious beliefs that precluded him from joining a union. However the court held:
Holzrichter admits that his Roman Catholic faith does not reject union membership. Moreover, Holzrichter is not opposed to all unions or the concept of union membership—and approves of teachers' and state workers' unions such as his wife's union—thereby reducing any inference that he holds an anti-union belief "religiously." Holzrichter is vehemently opposed to joining Local 139, and that objection may be based in his personal beliefs, ethics and morals. But in this court's opinion Holzrichter's opposition to Local 139 alone does not equate with his devotion to the divine, an ultimate being, or that which has ultimate importance. Holzrichter's opposition to Local 139 is neither required by a religious faith nor part of any personal religiousness; it is a personal preference based on personal principles.