Religious discrimination involves treating an employee unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion. Employees and applicants are protected against being treated unfavorably because of the individual’s race but also because of physical characteristics (hair texture, color, facial features) associated with race. Although color discrimination may sound similar to race discrimination, it differs in that it involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion. Religious discrimination is also protected, and those who violate these laws may be held accountable.
The definition of “religious belief, observance or practice” now includes religious dress and grooming practices.
- wearing or carrying religious clothing
- wearing head or face coverings
- wearing jewelry
- carrying artifacts
- forms of head, facial or body hair
- other items that are part of observing one’s religion
An accommodation is considered unreasonable if it requires segregation from other employees or the public.
Courts must apply the state definition of “undue hardship” in regards to accommodating an individual’s religious beliefs. This means an employer would have to prove that it requires significant difficulty or expense in order to show “undue hardship”.
Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of life in the United States. Your religious beliefs are your right. In California, no one can take away your religious beliefs or tell you to change them. It is also against the law to discriminate against you because of your religion, ethics, or moral beliefs. If your employer, coworkers, or other parties treat you differently or unfavorably because of your religion or because you are married to someone of a certain religion, you are the victim of discrimination.
What Are Examples of Religious Discrimination?
Religious discrimination can appear in a variety of different circumstances. In some cases, it can be difficult to determine whether something can truly be classified as an act of discrimination out of a desire to minimize the issue. Bringing up concerns about discrimination in the workplace can be intimidating, and employees who find themselves targeted might be afraid of not being taken seriously or even facing retaliation. That’s why it can be helpful to look over specific examples of religious discrimination. If you have experienced any of the following, you have likely experienced religious discrimination:
- Refusing to hire someone or promote them because they observe religious holidays. Even businesses that remain open during all holidays should have accommodations in place for those who observe specific religious holidays.
- Firing an employee because they wear religious attire. Workplace uniforms that don’t allow for religious attire accommodations may be in violation of the law.
- Excluding someone from a team or a project due to an assumption about how it might clash with their religious beliefs. Legally, a business cannot exclude anyone from a project because their religion is different.
- Openly mocking or making insulting remarks about someone’s religion. This can be from administration, management, or peers.
- Scheduling essential meetings and events during religious holidays or times of prayer. Accommodations or rescheduling must be implemented for those observing holy times.
- Retaliation against employees who have requested religious accommodations. More than simply ensuring employees can attend or observe religious days or times, businesses must do what they can to protect those employees from any negative backlash.
- Transferring an employee to a different department because the employer disagrees with their religious beliefs. Any discussion of moving one employee because they have different religious beliefs could be considered religious discrimination.
Workers’ Advocate Law Group has dedicated his practice to protecting the rights of employees in the workplace, including their right to enjoy a workplace free of from religious discrimination. We understand how religious discrimination affects people both financially and emotionally in a variety of situations, including:
- Employer’s refusal to reasonably accommodate an employee in religious practice.
- Religious considerations as a condition of employment.
- Promotion, training and work assignments decided on a religious basis.
- An employer’s refusal to allow an individual to wear religious clothing, such as a hijab, yarmulke or other religious garment in the workplace.
- Hostile work environment related to religious matters.
What Can a Discrimination Lawsuit Do?
Many people who have faced religious discrimination in the workplace will, unfortunately, feel like there is nothing they can do about it. They might have been misinformed to believe that lawsuits against employers don’t do anything but get the plaintiff fired. This is not the truth. If you want to challenge the discrimination and stand up for yourself, then taking the legal route with a lawsuit might be your only viable option.
When a religious discrimination lawsuit succeeds, it can result in:
- Financial compensation paid to you to penalize your employer for failing to stop or appropriately react to the discrimination.
- Termination of the worst offenders in your religious discrimination case.
- Improved company training to reduce the chances of similar discrimination from occurring to other employees in the future.
- Updated legislation that addresses the root of the issue at a statewide or possibly nationwide level.
If you’re hesitant to pursue your religious discrimination case just for your own benefit, then please remember that you could be helping your coworkers and workers in other companies you might never meet. Our team would be happy to discuss with you all the potential benefits that a claim can bring, so you can feel more confident in your decision to pursue a claim or not.
If you are experiencing religious discrimination of any kind at work, our law firm can help you understand and protect your rights.
Count on an experienced lawyer from Workers’ Advocate Law Group who has extensive experience in fighting for their clients’ employment rights. You can contact our firm online to schedule your free consultation in English or Spanish today. Our team will be more than happy to assist you accordingly.