New York Religious Discrimination Lawyers Representing Employees in Queens
If you have been subject to any type of discriminatory treatment at your workplace due to your religion or your employer’s assumptions about your religious beliefs, it is extremely important to learn more about your rights under federal and state law. Religion is a protected class under the U.S. Constitution, and an employer cannot treat an employee differently due to religion or religious preference. Not only do federal and state law prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace, but they also provide remedies for situations in which an employee faces retaliation as a result of religious discrimination. If you believe you have been treated differently by your employer on the basis of religion, or if you believe a prospective employer engaged in religious discrimination in the hiring process, you should speak with our religious discrimination lawyers in Queens and Long Island as soon as possible. We can evaluate your case and can help you to determine your options for moving forward with a claim.
What is Religious Discrimination?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), religious discrimination in the workplace “involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.” The EEOC clarifies that “the law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.” In addition to an employee’s religion or a prospective employee’s religion, religious discrimination can also involve treating a person differently “because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion.”
To be clear, in order for religious discrimination to be prohibited under federal and state law, the discrimination must be tied to a person’s (or the spouse of that person) religious beliefs, and those religious beliefs must be “sincerely held.” What is a sincerely held religious belief? Various courts have interpreted the language of a “sincerely held belief.” Generally speaking, to have a sincerely held belief in a religion, the person must believe in the religion, and that person must have believed in the religion consistently for an extended period of time. If you have questions or concerns, you should speak with religious discrimination lawyers in Queens who can help to prove that you have a sincerely held religious belief and that you faced discrimination because of your religion.
Prohibitions Against Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of religion (in addition to prohibiting discrimination on a variety of other bases).
This is a federal law, and an employee who has been discriminated against can file a claim with the EEOC. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees at any stage of the employment process, from hiring through termination. This law also makes it unlawful for an employer to segregate an employee based on his or her religion, or religious garb, including “assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.”
The New York State Human Rights Law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. This state law states the following:
“It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer . . . to impose upon a person as a condition of obtaining or retaining employment, including opportunities for promotion, advancement or transfers, any terms or conditions that would require such person to violate or forgo a sincerely held practice of his or her religion.”
Your Religious Beliefs Can and Should Be Accommodated in Your Workplace
The First Amendment grants us the right to practice the religion of our choice. Within each religion, there are varying degrees of belief and practice of faith that employers need to consider when you request that you be permitted to follow your faith. Some religions have strict laws about covering heads or not cutting hair. Others require prayer at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week. Employers must make allowances for these beliefs so long as it doesn’t unduly interfere with your performance or disrupt the work environment.
You also have the right to work in an environment free of harassment about your religion. Different sects of many religions come into conflict with each other and whether it is between superior and subordinate or between co-workers, inappropriate comments, slurs, and hostility are reasons for action against the perpetrator. If you report this harassment, you should also be free from retaliation for doing so.
Our attorneys respect your deeply held beliefs as well as your rights as an employee and want to help you preserve both. If you feel that your religious beliefs are not being accommodated by your employer, come in and tell us your story. We will take the time to listen and understand what you are going through. We will be able to see how the discrimination is taking place, and we can help you determine what actions you want to take going forward, including filing a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Examples of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
Any action that targets an individual or group because of their religious affiliation or practices and harms their ability to perform daily job tasks or advance in their career may be deemed to be an act of religious discrimination. This includes denying individuals reasonable accommodations to perform their jobs while following their religion’s requirements.
Religious discrimination can take many forms. It includes harassment of individuals based on their affiliation with a religion, refusal to hire or promote individuals of a certain religion or those who do not follow a specific religion, the singling out of individuals for layoffs or unbalanced disciplinary measures because of their religion, and the segregation of individuals in the workplace according to their religion. Religious discrimination can be committed against an individual based on his or her perceived religion as well. For example, a Sikh individual might be incorrectly assumed to be Muslim and face discrimination based on this assumption.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
Reasonable accommodations are the steps a company must take to make a position equally accessible for all employees covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These steps must not impose an undue financial, safety, or physical burden on the company or its other employees.
- Reasonable accommodations based on an employee’s religious needs may include:
- Allowing an employee to take time off on religious holidays
- Permitting the employee to alter his or her uniform to allow for religious garments, such as head coverings
- Modification of job duties to allow for an employee’s religious convictions
- Permitting the employee to take prayer breaks during the workday; and
- Altering the company’s grooming requirements to allow for religious expressions, such as bears or hair length.
Under Title VII, all religious must be treated equally. If a Christian employee is permitted to take time off to attend a special church service, a Wiccan or Jewish employee must have the same right.
Filing a Complaint with the EEOC
If you face any form of religious discrimination in the workplace, you have the right to file a workplace discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Document the date, time, and nature of each instance of religious discrimination you experience. These instances might include off-hand remarks about your lifestyle or practices or the use of slurs in the workplace. Other instances of discrimination might include being denied a promotion despite being more qualified than the individual chosen for the new position. Before filing an EEOC claim, speak with your supervisor and your company’s Human Resources department about your experiences. Document these interactions as well because if you do file a claim, they too will be important pieces of evidence.
Through its investigation of your workplace, the EEOC might find that discrimination occurred and facilitate a settlement between you and the company. If it does not, you have the option to file a discrimination lawsuit.
Read our religious discrimination FAQ.
Contact our religious discrimination attorneys at 347-464-8694 to talk about your situation.
Finding Religious Discrimination Lawyers in Queens and Long Island
Religious discrimination is much more common with new populations immigrating to the U.S. and tensions between their nations and ours.
Assumptions that are made based on religion can affect hiring and promotion decisions. People who are of the same religion, but of different sects can also discriminate against one another because of deeply seated biases against each other.
Your job is just as important to you as your religion, so you shouldn’t be prevented from having either. Our law firm will aggressively protect your religious freedom and help bring your case to a successful resolution, even if it means going all the way to court.
No employee should ever be subject to religious discrimination in the New York workplace. Our dedicated and aggressive religious discrimination lawyers in Queens and Long Island can fight for your civil rights. Call Ricotta & Marks, P.C., at 347-464-8694 or send us an e-mail to schedule your free initial consultation today.