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Types of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

There are many ways in which a person can face discrimination in the workplace. One of them is because of their religion. Because some religions have strict rules about clothing, hair, and prayer, it is not uncommon for employees to be teased or harassed about their beliefs.

However, this behavior is illegal. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must accommodate the religious practices of employees. A person who faces comments, slurs, and hostility because of his or her religion can sue an employer for religious discrimination.


Types of Religious Discrimination


A person may face discrimination from a supervisor, co-worker, or customer. Religious discrimination can take on many forms. It can include harassing an employee because of his or her religion. Harassment may include offensive remarks about a person’s religion. However, the harassment has to be severe and pervasive. Teasing or isolated remarks would not qualify.

Religious discrimination may also include refusing to hire or promote those who do not follow a certain religion. Employers may demote or terminate an employee who is of a religion that is different from that of the owners of the company. Segregation can also occur, but this is illegal, as well.

Religious discrimination can also occur based on one’s perceived religion. Some religions are similar to others, so it is not uncommon to confuse a Christian employee with a Catholic one, or a Sikh individual with a Muslim. This confusion can lead to discrimination.


Reasonable Accommodations for Religion


An employer is required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs, as long as the accommodation does not create a burden, or undue hardship, on the company. The employer must make minimal adjustments as needed, including changes such as flexible scheduling, shift swaps, and modifications to workplace policies.

Examples include the following:

  • Exceptions to the company’s dress and grooming code. For example, a Pentecostal Christian woman may not wear pants or short skirts or a Muslim woman must be allowed to wear a religious headscarf.
  • An employee needs a schedule change because working on the Sabbath is prohibited.
  • An atheist needs to be excused from the prayer portion of staff meetings.
  • An employee who is a follower of Native American spiritual beliefs needs to take time off work to attend a ritual ceremony.
  • A Muslim employee needs to engage in daily prayers at various times throughout the day.

An undue hardship would involve causing a lack of necessary staffing, jeopardizing health or security, or costing the employer a significant amount of money. In these cases, religious accommodation is not required.


Contact a New York Discrimination Lawyer


Everyone has their own beliefs about religion. Many are devoted to Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, or some other religion, while some are atheists who do not believe in religion at all. Whatever you believe, you should not face discrimination in the workplace because of it.

If you are facing religious discrimination at work, get help from the employment discrimination attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. We can protect your religious freedom so you do not have to choose between your job and your religion. Schedule a free consultation today. Call our office at (347) 464-8694.

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