Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination is illegal per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Businesses must allow religious practices on the job.  The law in the United States protects freedom of expression and persons who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs are allowed to wear clothing or symbols of their religion in the workforce.

This also includes employees who are involved with others who have religious beliefs.  In other words, businesses cannot treat someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an employee who is affiliated with a particular religion or because of that person’s connection with a religious organization or group.

Religious Discrimination & Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination in the hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment in terms of religious beliefs or affiliations; therefore, businesses must be very careful not to discriminate against an employee or those associated with an employee because of his/her religion.

All businesses should have a policy for complaints regarding harassment and must follow a due diligence process to make sure that harassment has not occurred in the workplace.  Examples of harassment include:
Not allowing religious expression in the form of dreadlocks or tatoos that demonstrate religious beliefs, offensive remarks about a person’s beliefs or practices, specific dress or head dress that expresses religious beliefs.  Although the law doesn’t prohibit bullying (this is under consideration), offhand comments, or isolated incidents that seem “in fun” may be construed to be harmful and in fact, illegal.  Worse, the harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, fellow employee, client, or customer.

Religious Accommodation/Dress & Grooming Policies

Unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer’s operation of its business, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices. This applies not only to schedule changes or leave for religious observances.  Dress is also a consideration.  For example, employers must allow the following:  wearing particular head coverings or other religious dress (such as a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim headscarf), or wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair (such as Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard). It also includes an employee’s observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (such as pants or miniskirts).

Religious Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation & Undue Hardship

An employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.

Religious Discrimination And Employment Policies/Practices

An employee cannot be forced to participate (or not participate) in a religious activity as a condition of employment.

If you feel you’ve been a victim of religious discrimination in the workplace, contact and make an appointment with the religious discrimination attorneys at Beck Law P.C. to determine if you may have a case.


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