Regardless of your religious beliefs, you should be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against you because of your religious beliefs. This is because religion is a protected category of rights along with race, national origin, color, sex and disability. But, it is important to note Title VII only applies to employers with more than fifteen employees, so you are not covered by this legislation if you work for an employer with less than fifteen employees.
Religious discrimination is prohibited by federal law, so it is enforced by a government agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Employers cannot make any job-related decision such as hiring, firing, promoting, and pay raises, based on your religious beliefs. This protection is also extended to employees who are married to someone who practices a specific religion. For example, if you are Christian and your husband is Muslim, an employer cannot discriminate against you because of your husband’s faith, even if he supports your own religion beliefs.
Employees are allowed to ask their employers to make reasonable accommodations on account of their religious beliefs. For example, if an employee needs to take a break from work multiple times throughout the day to pray, this should be accommodated. The employee should also be given a private prayer space if he requests one.
The only time employers do not have to follow through with requested accommodations is when they can prove the request is unreasonable. This may be proven by showing it’s financially impossible to accommodate the employee or the accommodation puts an unreasonable burden on the business. Under these circumstances, employers do not have to accommodate your requests.
Harassment is another form of discrimination you may experience in the workplace. Co-workers, supervisors, and even clients of your employer are prohibited from harassing you because of your religious beliefs. Harassing behaviors include making offensive jokes or gestures, mocking you, or physically threatening your safety because of your religion.
Each of these behaviors is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as long as the victim can prove it created a hostile work environment. To prove this, you must be able to show the offensive behaviors occurred repeatedly over an extended period of time and became so severe that it interfered with your job performance.
Employees can also experience discrimination when they are told they cannot wear their traditional religious dress. Employers have to accommodate your religious dress, for example, headscarves or facial hair, unless they can prove it puts an undue hardship on their business. People of all faiths must be allowed to wear their religious dress, not just those who practice well-known religions.
Employees should never be forced to participate in an employee practice or follow an employee policy if doing so goes against their religion. Forcing an employee to go against what they believe in would be a violation of the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Have you been discriminated at work against because of your religious beliefs? Contact the employment law attorneys at Shegerian Conniff today to discuss your legal options and defend your rights.
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