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Religious Discrimination at the Workplace: What Are My Legal Rights?

By Gregory Thyberg on June 29, 2017


An ostracized person in the crowdWorkers throughout the Sacramento area know that they have strong advocates at our legal office. Workplace discrimination and employee harassment cannot be tolerated, particularly when a person's religious beliefs are the basis for mistreatment. This goes against the spirit of religious freedom that is one of the bedrocks of America's ideals.

We'd like to consider the basics of religious discrimination at the work place below. If you experience any form of religious discrimination at your workplace, do not hesitate to speak with a employment attorney about your situation.

Religious Discrimination Defined

Religious discrimination refers to any instances in which a person is mistreated as a result of their sincere religious beliefs. In the context of the workplace, religious discrimination relates to any negative treatment by an employer or co-workers as a result of the person's religious practices. This applies to hiring practices, on-the-job treatment, career advancement and job titles, as well as issues surrounding termination.

Federal protections from religious discrimination are granted by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1974; state protections are covered by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Discrimination Over Hiring, Firing, Promotions, and Pay

One of the protections for job applicants and employees is that they will not be discriminated against for their religious beliefs with regard to hiring, firing, or their pay. Religious beliefs are not a justification for mistreatment or a denial of fair consideration, wages, compensation, and benefits.

Religious Discrimination and Workplace Harassment

In these politically charged times, it is possible that a person's religious beliefs may make them targets of harassment from fellow employees. If the employee is harassed, ostracized, or treated in a poor manner as a result of their religious faith, the person who is responsible for the harassment should be held accountable for their actions.

Reasonable Accommodation for Religious Practices

In addition to the above matters, employers must be able to make reasonable accommodations for the religious practices of their employees. This means allowing days off for religious observances and holidays, as well as time for prayer based on the tenets of their faith. So long as the accommodations do not impact regular operations of the business, flexibility for the employee's faith should be taken into account.

Issues with Workplace Dress Code and Grooming Practices

Some religious faiths require adherents to dress in a certain manner or to wear certain garments. Employers must be willing to make reasonable accommodations with regard to employee dress. This includes reasonable considerations for headscarves, yarmulkes, turbans, and other garments or accessories. Similar considerations ought to be made with regard to facial hair and hairstyles as they pertain to religious beliefs.

Job Duties That Conflict with Religious Beliefs

Employees should not be forced into performing on-the-job duties that may conflict with their religious observances and practices. These considerations must be taken into account by employers with regard to the way their business is run. Coercing employees into performing acts that run counter to their religious practices can be seen as a violation of the employee's legal protections.

Learn More About Workplace Discrimination Lawsuits

For more information about your legal rights and options following and instance of workplace discrimination or wrongful termination, be sure to contact an experienced workplace discrimination attorney today. We will help you fight this unjust treatment and hold the negligent employer or co-workers accountable.

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