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.