Religious Discrimination

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Religious Discrimination in The Workplace

Discrimination Lawyers Helping Fight Religious Discrimination in the Workplace for Over 25 Years

Religious discrimination in the workplace goes directly against most diversity initiatives in place in the business world today. Harassing an employee or treating the employee unfairly based on religion is not only unethical but, according to federal and state laws, illegal.

Employees are entitled to a fair working environment, regardless of religion. If your employer denies you this right because of your religion, your perceived religion, or the religion of your spouse, children, or associates, he violated your rights.

When your employer violates your rights to religious freedom in the workplace, you need an attorney that will help you stand up for your rights. Whether you fear retaliation, wrongful termination, or further humiliation, fighting back against your employer’s discrimination will help put an end to the discrimination. It will also help you get the compensation you deserve.

What Is Religious Discrimination in the Workplace?

Religious discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly or harassed by an employer, CEO, supervisor/manager, co-worker, client, customer, or non-employee because of religious beliefs or customs.

Religious discrimination can include the following:

  • Refusal to allow days off to follow religious holidays
  • Refusal to allow religious practices in the workplace
  • Regulations that limit religious clothing, food, and customs in the workplace.

Furthermore, when an employer fires you for following your religious customs, it is wrongful termination. Wrongful termination or any other form of retaliation is a form of prohibited religious discrimination.

What Are Examples of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace?

Some examples of religious discrimination in the workplace may include, but are not limited to:

  • Your boss refuses to give you time to pray throughout the day as per Muslim prayer times.
  • Your co-worker makes fun of the yarmulke you wear daily.
  • Your supervisor refuses to give you the days off for your religious holidays. It does not create any undue hardship for the company.
  • Your client asks to work with a different representative when he learns you are married to a person who is a practicing Hindu.
  • Your company has a policy that does not allow Muslim women to wear hijabs in the office.
  • Your co-worker sends emails filled with offensive religious jokes every week.

What Laws Protect Victims of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace?

Both federal and state laws prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers with 15 or more employees cannot make any hiring, firing, or other employment-related decisions based on religion. In addition, harassment in the workplace based on religious beliefs and cultures is absolutely prohibited. If you experience these discriminatory behaviors in the workplace, you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC investigates your claim. Once complete, you have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court.

State laws also prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace. Depending on the state, the laws could protect employees who work for companies with as little as one employee. Your claim can be filed with state agencies or directly with the courts.

It is best to consult with an experienced employment discrimination attorney to determine whether your claim is best filed under state or federal laws.

How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for Religious Discrimination?

Depending on where you live and how you wish to file your claim, you have varied timeframes to file your claim for religious discrimination at work. The EEOC sets a statute of limitations at 180 days for most people to file a religious discrimination claim. However, if you live in a state with a local law protecting employees from religious discrimination, the EEOC allows 300 days to file your claim.

Each state offers its own laws and procedures regarding religious discrimination claims. Depending on your state, you may have 180 days to two years or more to file your claim. It is best to speak with a religious discrimination lawyer in your state to determine the time limit to file your claim with the appropriate state agency of court.

What Responsibility Does Your Employer Have to Protect Your Religious Rights in the Workplace?

You have the right to a workplace that promotes religious freedom. Your employer has a responsibility to provide this type of workplace. If you are being harassed, your employer has a responsibility to step in and stop the behavior once he becomes aware of the issues.

Your employer also has the responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations for you to practice your religion. If a requested accommodation causes an undue hardship, your employer must work with you to find an alternative accommodation to suit your needs and the business’s needs.

Some accommodations your employer should make to create a workplace free of religious discrimination may include, but are not limited to:

  • Allowing you to take days off to attend to religious obligations as long as it does not create an undue hardship for the company
  • Providing time for you to pray throughout the day
  • Allowing you to wear religious clothing
  • Creating a policy that prohibits religious discrimination

How Do You Prove Religious Discrimination at Work?

To fight religious discrimination at work, you must prove your employer treated you in a negative way or harassed you because of your religious beliefs or perceived religious beliefs. Proving religious discrimination does not mean you have to prove you have a deeply held religious belief. However, it does mean that you have to prove you have a religious belief, are associated with someone with a religious belief, or are perceived to have a religious belief.

Your employer will rarely come right out and say they dislike or hate people of a certain religious belief or people involved in interfaith relationships. If your employer says this or is known to carry these beliefs, you have a case of direct evidence. You can easily prove their negative treatment relates to their widely known beliefs.

It is more likely that you will have to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the knowledge of your religious beliefs (or perceived religious beliefs) and your employer’s behavior.

For instance, you request time off for a religious event. Your employer approves the time off. However, within two days, your boss asks you to complete a task within the three days before your requested time off.

The task usually takes two weeks to complete. When you do not complete it in time, he suspends you without pay for a week.

The cause-and-effect relationship is also known as disparate or circumstantial evidence. It demonstrates an action a reasonable person can assume came from negative feelings relating to your religious beliefs.

Sometimes, your employer has a policy in place that leads to discrimination. For instance, a company may offer paid time off for Jewish religious holidays and Christian holidays only. However, you are a practicing Muslim and have to use paid time off for your religious holidays. If you are out of paid time off, you can take time off without pay.

Proving your case can be a complicated process. When you are the victim of religious discrimination, you are often emotionally invested in receiving justice. It is best to consult with a qualified religious discrimination lawyer who can look at your case objectively and help you file your complaint.

What Remedies Can the Court Offer Victims of Religious Discrimination?

Victims of religious discrimination deserve relief, justice, and compensation for their hardship. You may choose to request certain remedies from the court to help you move on from the entire ordeal. Some of these remedies may include financial relief, such as reimbursement of expenses, legal fees, and money for pain and suffering and emotional distress.

However, you may also ask for the court to provide injunctive relief (changes to the employer’s actions and behaviors), such as the reinstatement of employment and benefits and changes to policies and procedures.

Contact an experienced employment discrimination attorney to help you draft your demand letter to the courts and request the relief you truly need and want.

Are Religious Organizations Prohibited from Religious Discrimination?

Religious discrimination laws do have an exception for religious organizations. Religious organizations have the right to require only people of the same religion to work for the organization. However, the organization cannot discriminate against applicants or employees based on race or national origin.

How Can a Discrimination Lawyer Help You with Your Religious Discrimination Claim?

As the victim of religious discrimination, you are emotionally involved in the claim. You likely feel humiliated, violated, and degraded. All of these emotions can make it difficult for you to think clearly. You may have a hard time creating a claim to file with the appropriate agency.

Even more importantly, you may not know when or where to file your claim. You may not even know where to begin your research.

An experienced discrimination lawyer can help sort through all the information relating to your claim. They can look at your case objectively and suggest the best course of action towards justice.

Your experienced discrimination attorney will know when and where to file your claim for the best results. They can help you request the relief you need and want from the courts. They can help negotiate a settlement early on in the process and continue to work towards a settlement along the way.

Working with a dedicated and qualified discrimination attorney can help you make your case, tell your story effectively, and work through the process as quickly and effectively as possible.

Contact Our Experienced Employment Discrimination Attorneys for Your Free Consultation

You have the right to work in an environment free from religious persecution and discrimination. If you are the victim of religious discrimination in the workplace, the experienced employment discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey can help.

Do you have questions about religious discrimination in the workplace? Please call us at 800.807.2209 or email derek@dereksmithlaw.com with your questions.