Religious Discrimination

Discrimination because of religious beliefs is illegal according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are several provisions listed that show employers are required to try and provide reasonable accommodation for an employee to practice their religion as long as they do not cause the employer “undue” hardship.

One provision states that employers may not treat applicants or employees better or worse than other employees because of their religious beliefs and/or practices – except to the extent they can make a religious accommodation. For example, an employer may not refuse to hire individuals of a certain religion, or may not impose more or different work requirements on an employee because of that employee’s religious beliefs or practices.

Sometimes religious discrimination is compounded by national origin discrimination and racial discrimination. Many cultures have a national religion or a practice that is not Judeo-Christian based or reflected in mainstream American culture. Further, religious discrimination can also happen to atheists.

This may seem odd to most Americans, but employees cannot be forced to participate — or be purposely excluded — in a religious activity (like a Christmas party) as a condition of employment or for positive performance reviews. However, employers must also reasonably accommodate an employee’s earnestly held religious practices unless doing so would impose a gratuitous hardship on the employer. Any adjustment to the workplace would be considered a logical religious accommodation and will allow the employee to practice his religion. An employer might do something like: modification of grooming requirements, job reassignments and lateral transfers, flexible scheduling, voluntary substitutions or swaps, and other work related practices, policies and/or procedures.

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In addition, where workers articulate a need to express their religious beliefs and practices in the workplace, companies are generally required to accommodate them, unless doing so would cause the company undue hardship. Similarly, where employees need a little flexibility to practice their religion outside of work, the employer might have to comply. This might mean not scheduling an employee to work on her Sabbath day, for example, or relaxing a dress code so that an employee can wear religious garments.

As with other types of employment discrimination, an employer should do as much as possible to prevent harassment of their employees because of religious expression. An effective anti-harassment policy with an efficient procedure for reporting and resolving the harassing conduct should be an enforced standard in all companies. Retaliation against an employee involved in any type of religious discrimination charge is also illegal under Title VII.

If you have been a victim of religious discrimination, or are an employer being challenged, contact an experienced religious discrimination attorney in Sacramento at the Law Office of Bowman and Associates, APC to schedule your Free Initial Consultation today.

Sacramento Religious Discrimination Attorney

The law prohibits employers from treating employees or applicants for employment less, or more, favorably because of their religious believes and practices.  Moreover, employers cannot require employees to participate or not participate in religious practices as a condition of employment.  Generally, an employer is required to reasonably accommodate the employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs or practices, provided that the employer does not suffer an undue hardship on the employer’s legitimate business interests.

An employer can show undue hardship if the accommodation for an employee’s religious beliefs/practices requires more than average administrative costs, decreases fellow employees’ job efficiency or causes a co-worker(s) to bear the accommodated employee’s share of potentially unsafe or arduous work, interferes with other employees’ job benefits or rights, diminishes workplace safety, or if the planned adjustment conflicts with another law or regulation. With the above in mind, an employer is required by Title VII to allow employees to engage in religious expression and may not place restrictions on religious expression without comparable restrictions on other forms of expression.