Freedom of Religion On & Off the Job
The First Amendment of the US Constitution allows every American to freely practice their religion. This is also legally permitted in the workplace, and employers who violate federal laws regarding religious discrimination must be addressed.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines religious discrimination as treating a person, whether it be an applicant or employee, unfavorably because of their religious beliefs. The law protects those who belong to traditional religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, as well as others who have sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs.
Forms of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
It’s crucial to note that religious discrimination doesn't just have to come from a supervisor or co-worker, but it can also come from someone like a client or customer, or anyone who doesn’t play a role in your job.
Religious discrimination in work situations can come in many forms:
- job assignments
- fringe benefits
- any other term or condition of employment
Religious discrimination can also take the form of harassment:
- Making offensive comments about a person’s religious beliefs or practices
- Commenting on a person’s religious attire in a negative tone
- Mocking someone for not eating pork or beef
- Degrading a person’s inability to handle certain job roles due to their religious beliefs
There are countless other ways religious discrimination can occur. This behavior is extremely unacceptable and also illegal. An employer or co-worker may violate the law by not only using discrimination and harassment but also via segregation: Asking an employee to handle job tasks that are not customer-facing or moving their work station to an isolated area to avoid contact with other employees are some examples.
The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious needs as long as it doesn’t heavily interfere with company operations or create “undue hardship.” If an employee at a restaurant wears a Turban and has uncut facial hair as part of their religion, an employer must accommodate as best as possible. If they are unable to do so, it may not qualify as religious discrimination.
We Can Fight to Protect Your Rights
Our employment lawyers at Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP have the skills, compassion, and experience needed to help you overcome your unlawful and unethical encounters. Discrimination of any kind is intolerable, and we will advocate tirelessly for justice for those affected by these behaviors in the workplace. Call us at (713) 352-3433 to learn about how we can help you!