It is illegal to harass a person because of his or her religion. The First Amendment protects against religious discrimination. You have the right to practice- or refrain from practicing- any religion. Both state and federal laws make employment discrimination because of someone’s faith illegal, and protect workers who choose to openly practice the religion of their choice.
Sadly, others in the workplace do not always follow these laws. Supervisors may fail to promote an employee because of their religious faith, and co-workers may mock and harass employees who hold different beliefs. Often, employers turn a blind eye to this illegal harassment, thinking that civil rights laws do not apply to them.
Title VII of The Civil Rights Act
In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed prohibiting companies and employers from discriminating against the religious beliefs or lack of religious belief when hiring or firing. Title VII also prevents creating any terms and conditions of employment based on religious belief. This section of law also prohibits segregation of tasks or positions based on religion, such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.
Religious discrimination includes forcing an employee to participate (or not participate) in a religious activity, and or making it a condition of employment.
Treating someone differently because that person is associated with or married to an someone of a particular religion can also be religious discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires that employers reasonably accommodate not only the religious beliefs but the practices of applicants and employees. A reasonable religious accommodation would be an accommodation to the job or schedule that would allow the employee to practice their religion. Examples of this would include creating flexible scheduling, shift substitutions or swaps that are voluntary, lateral job reassignments, and exceptions to dress codes or grooming regulations.
If any of these religious accommodations cause undue hardships on the employer’s business, these exceptions will need to be determined on a case by case basis.
The following is a list of examples of potential undue hardships to an employer’s business:
If the accommodation increases costs, decreases efficiency, compromises employee safety, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their fair share of work that is potentially hazardous or burdensome. An employer may also show undue hardship if his business has a seniority system or collective bargaining agreement that would be infringed upon by a religious accommodation.
Religious harassment of employee through offensive remarks about their religious belief or practices is also covered by Title VII. The law doesn’t provide complete coverage or prohibit offhand comments, simple teasing or isolated incidents that aren’t deemed very serious. Instances of unlawful harassment occur when the frequency or severity of the remarks creates a hostile work environment or when it results in the employee/victim being demoted or fired.
Under Title VII, retaliation against an individual for opposing employment practices which discriminate based on religion or for filing a discrimination charge, participating in an investigation, or testifying in litigation is also deemed illegal.
Religious Discrimination Attorneys working in San Francisco, Oakland and the Greater Bay Area
If you have faced discrimination on the job because of your religion, gender, race, or sexual harassment, our discrimination attorneys can evaluate the facts of your potential case vis-a-vis the law. Your best step is to reach out for a religious discrimination lawyer here in the Bay Area for a free consultation.