If an employer, your CEO, a supervisor or manager, your co-worker, a client or customer, a vendor, or any other non-employee treats you unfairly or harasses you because of your religion, you may be the victim of religious discrimination. Federal and local laws prohibit this type of behavior in the workplace. The county was founded on the freedom of religion and your workplace is no place to question that freedom. For the past 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in Philadelphia have helped people just like you, get the compensation they deserve.
What Is Discrimination Based on Religion in Philadelphia?
Religious discrimination in Philadelphia occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly or harassed by an employer, CEO, supervisor or manager, co-worker, client or customer, vendor, or any other non-employee because of religious beliefs, differences or associations. This can occur in the form of termination, demotion, harassment, pay decreases, refusal to allow for religious practices in the workplace, refusal to allow for days off for religious purposes, denying work of specific projects or with specific clients, or any other negative and unfair treatment in the workplace. Religious discrimination is illegal and should never be tolerated.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers and other business associates of firms with 15 or more employees from discriminating against an employee or job applicant on the basis of the person’s religion or perceived religion.
Under the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, employers and associates of companies with 4 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against employees or job applicants on the basis of religion.
Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state. That means an employer can fire an employee for almost any reason. In addition, while it is more beneficial to an employer to be kind, an employer can be rude and down-right mean to any employee for almost any reason. However, if it can be proven that you are fired or treated poorly or harassed because of your religion, then your boss broke the law. There are three ways to prove religious discrimination in the workplace: direct evidence; disparate evidence; and policy evidence.
- Direct Evidence. This is the evidence that is the rarest, but often the most detrimental to the defense. Direct evidence is often called, “the smoking gun.” This occurs when you are told directly or overhear that you were treated poorly or harassed because of your religion. This can be in the form of written communications, verbal communications, or a text. It can come directly to you, be overheard by you, relayed to you, or intercepted by you.
- Disparate Evidence. Disparate evidence occurs when you can show a direct relationship between harassment or unfair treatment and your religion. For instance, if you can show that you were passed over for a promotion several times, however, the person who always got the promotion was someone who was Catholic (and you are Jewish), you may have disparate evidence.
- Policy Evidence. Policy evidence occurs when a policy is intentionally or unintentionally discriminatory in nature. Simply following the policy would discriminate against an employee or job applicant on the basis of religion.
Religious discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. It can be as simple as a discriminatory dress code to as horrendous as using derogatory slurs when speaking about or to people of different religions. Here are a few examples of religious discrimination in the workplace.
- Refusing to allow a Muslim employee prayer times throughout the day
- Denying a Jewish employee days off to celebrate the High Holy Days
- Firing a Catholic employee for having ashes on his forehead for Ash Wednesday and refusing t wipe them off
- Harassing a Protestant employee who married a Hindu person because it is an inter-faith marriage
- Refusing to allow a Muslim woman to wear a hijab to work
- An employee sends emails with religious jokes to everyone in the office, even after it has been reported to HR as offensive
- Your boss continues to preach religion to you and tells you that if you do not convert you will go to Hell
- Making fun of an employee for keeping kosher due to religious beliefs
- Firing an employee who complained to HR about being denied a raise because of his religion
- Demoting an employee who refuses to hide his religious beliefs
- Refusing to allow an atheist to work on a project because the client wants “God-fearing people” only working on his projects
- Asking a person about their religious beliefs at any point of the interview or employment process
- Refusing to hire a person because he is not Catholic
If you have a Title VII claim for religious discrimination, you need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The time limit to file the claim is 300 days from the date of the last incident of discrimination. The EEOC will investigate the claim to make sure it fits into the guidelines of a Title VII claim and then issue you a Right to Sue letter. You can then file a complaint in federal court for your claim.
If you want to file a claim under the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, you have 1 year to file a claim with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR). The PCHR will investigate the claim and issue a Right to Sue letter. Then you can file the lawsuit against your employer in Philadelphia County.
Freedom of religion is not limited to your personal life. It extends to your professional life as well. When your employer attempts to deny you that freedom, the courts have remedies available to make sure you are compensated fairly. Some of these remedies include, but are not limited to:
- Reinstatement of employment and/or benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Reassignment or termination of the person responsible for the discriminatory behavior
- Reviewing and revamping religious discrimination policy
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Attorney’s fees
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
A lawsuit for religious discrimination in Philadelphia can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to a year or longer. If your employer is willing to negotiate a fair settlement, the lawsuit may settle in as little as 4 to 6 months. However, if your employer is unwilling to negotiate, the case may take 8 months to a year or longer to prepare for trial. The trial may then last a few days to several weeks or more until a judgment is entered by the courts.
Religious organizations are exempt from certain aspects of religious discrimination laws. These organizations are legally allowed to make hiring decisions based on religion because it can be considered a requirement for the job. A mosque, synagogue, church, or any other religious organization is allowed to make policies that require employees to share their religious beliefs as part of the qualifications for employment.
As the victim of religious discrimination in the workplace, you are likely trying to figure out your next move. In the meantime, here are a few things you should do to help prepare for your case.
- Contact an experienced religious discrimination attorney immediately.
- If you are still employed, do not quit your job without consulting your attorney first.
- If your company has an HR department, file a complaint in writing regarding the discrimination.
- If your company has a religious discrimination policy, follow it.
- Gather evidence. Document every incidence, including what occurred, who was involved, when and where it occurred and any witnesses.
- Do not waste time. You have one year to file a complaint to have your case heard. Do not wait until it is too late.
Contact Our Experienced Religious Discrimination Attorneys in Philadelphia Today for Your Free Consultation
No one should work in an environment in which there are discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. If you are the victim of religious discrimination in Philadelphia, one of FindLaw’s top employment discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. We have helped our clients win over $165,000,000 and we can help you too. Contact us today at (215) 391-4790 or complete our form for a free consultation. We do not receive any payment for our services until you win your case.
Different Types of Workplace Discrimination Cases We Handle:
- Race Discrimination
- Color Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination
- Age (over 40) Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender or Sex Discrimination
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- Genetic Information Discrimination
- Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination
- Ethnic Discrimination
- LGBT Discrimination
- Hair Discrimination