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Examples of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Religious Discrimination: An Overview

Practicing or not practicing a religion is a very personal choice each person makes. One rooted in the U.S. Constitution. Look no further than the First Amendment to see that everyone in the United States has the right to practice their religion. As one of our most protected rights, it is often fought over in legal settings, particularly around such issues as school vouchers.

What if your religious beliefs come into conflict with another person's rights? What if what you believe is vastly different than those around you? What if, as a result, you experience religious discrimination? Let's look at some examples of religious discrimination in the workplace and what protections are available.

Laws Protecting Citizens From Religious Discrimination

Let's start with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This law prohibits the government from creating or promoting any religion. You might be a Protestant, your neighbor an Atheist, and your best friend, a Muslim. No matter what your belief, the government cannot "establish" an official religion.

How Does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act Come Into Play?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is our time's most important civil rights legislation. This law prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your religion. For example, your employer can't base the following decisions on your religion:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Other terms and conditions of employment

Employers must also reasonably accommodate your religious practices. But the employer doesn't have to provide an accommodation if it creates an undue hardship.

Title VII's protections extend to employees and prospective employees. So, employers must not discriminate against and reasonably accommodate job applicants as well.

What Is a "Reasonable Accommodation?"

reasonable religious accommodation is a change to the work environment so you can practice your religion. Examples include:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Voluntary substitutions or swaps
  • Job reassignments and lateral transfers

To be clear, "religious beliefs" can include both theistic and non-theistic traditions. So, it covers those who believe in God in the traditional sense and those who do not. The definition includes people with more non-theistic moral or ethical beliefs about right and wrong. They must sincerely hold their beliefs with the strength of traditional religious views.

Prohibited Actions by an Employer

There are many actions your employer should avoid to comply with the law. For example, your employer should not:

  • Schedule activities that conflict with an employee's or applicant's religious needs
  • Inquire about an applicant's future availability at certain times
  • Maintain a restrictive dress code
  • Refuse to allow observance of a Sabbath or religious holiday
  • Refuse to recruit, hire, or promote a person because they are of a particular religion
  • Impose different work requirements because of an employee's religious beliefs or practices
  • Impose stricter promotion requirements for persons of a particular religion
  • Refuse to hire an applicant solely because they don't follow a particular religion
  • Refuse to hire an applicant because they may need a reasonable accommodation
  • Refuse to consider an applicant because they have a name associated with a particular religion

Remember, your employer doesn't have to provide a religious accommodation if it can show that doing so will cause an undue hardship.

Examples of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace: Additional Resources

After reading this article, you may have questions or concerns. FindLaw can help you continue your research. Click on the links below to learn more about religion and the law.

Filing a Religious Discrimination Claim? Talk to an Attorney Today

Are you concerned about religious discrimination in your work environment? These kinds of issues can be sensitive, but it's essential to know that you have rights. It's even more important to know that there are employment law experts who can help.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified employment discrimination attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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