Religious Discrimination

Has your boss expected you to go to his church? Refused to allow you to have an important day of religious observance off?  Made comments criticizing your belief system?  These factors could indicate a possible case of discrimination on a religious basis.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act state it’s not legal to discriminate on the basis of a person’s religion in the terms or conditions of employment. This could include what you’re paid, whether or not you’re promoted, or other issues.

The term “Religion” includes all aspects of religious practice and belief. It’s technically the employer’s burden to prove that they can’t reasonably accommodate a worker’s religious practice without undue hardship. The Courts, however, often limit recovery to the most obvious, egregious cases.

In 2012, the California Religious Freedom Act was passed, raising state standards above the Fair Employment and Housing Act.  It says that religious dress and grooming practices should generally be accommodated.  However, religious beliefs that require segregating employees from customers or the general public are not reasonable.  In other words, if your religious belief does not allow you to work closely with members of the opposite sex, your employer does not have to accommodate you.

The state law also states that a higher showing must be made to show that the observance creates an undue hardship for your employer.  Under federal law, a small showing is required regarding the difficulty and expense of the requested accommodation.  A further inquiry into the cost of the expense, the nature of the request, and even the financial resources of the company in question will be examined, under California law.

For example, if you are the only Jewish person at a large business, and request a religious holiday off, your employer should make a reasonable effort to accommodate you.  However, if your employer has a religiously neutral policy stating how days off are determined, (such as by seniority) this may make a discrimination case more difficult to prove, especially if your holiday is an observance for other religions.  A lot of people want weekends off.

Religious discrimination often happens when the people in charge of a business are of a particular religion or following, and they try to convert employees to the same belief. In this situation, discrimination may occur where employees are denied employment, refused promotion or raises, or unfairly fired, demoted or disciplinedbecause the employee will not accept the employer’s or manager’s religious beliefs.

If you have questions about religious discrimination, you should contact us for a free case evaluation call 1-877-219-8481