Treating a person differently in the workplace because of his or her religion, whether the person is an employee or a job applicant, is illegal under both federal and state law. It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their religion when it comes to any aspect of employment, which could include hiring, firing, layoffs, benefits, pay, number of hours, job assignments, or any other term of employment. The law also prevents an employer from treating someone differently in the workplace because that person is married to or is associated with a person of a particular religion. If you believe you were discriminated against because of your religion, it is recommended to contact an attorney with significant experience in religion discrimination and harassment cases. There are certain skills necessary to prove a religion discrimination case, and our attorneys’ experience and knowledge will have a direct impact on the value of your case.
Religious harassment and religious discrimination could include offensive remarks about a person’s religion or religious practices. If a person is simply teased very occasionally or the harassment is very isolated, the behavior may not be illegal. However, if the harassment is so serious or happens so often that it creates a hostile work environment, the conduct is illegal and the victim may bring forth legal claims against the employer and against individual culprits as well. Another way in which religious discrimination at work can occur is if an employer separates employees because of their religion.
Employers are required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices. This could include schedule changes or leave for religious events, religious dress and religious practices. However, an employer is only required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices. An employer isn’t required to accommodate any requests that would cause more than a minimal burden on the employer’s business, including requests that were very expensive, compromised safety, or infringed on the rights of other employees. For example, an employer may be required to allow his or her employees to take short breaks in which to pray a few times a day. However, a grocery store probably wouldn’t be required to hire an employee who couldn’t touch pork products because of religious reasons.
Employers may also not force employees to participate or to not participate in a religious activity as a condition of employment, unless the employer is a religious organization. For example, an employer can’t ask that all employees go to a monthly morning prayer breakfast. It is important to note that the discriminatory actions and the harassment does not have to be done by an employer or by a supervisor. If a co-worker, client or customer engages in the harassment, that can also constitute religious discrimination, especially if the employer was aware of the offensive conduct. Employees also cannot be discriminated against based on whom they are married to or are associated with. Employees are also protected from discrimination based on perceived religious beliefs, even if that assumption is incorrect.
Some examples of religion discrimination and religious harassment may include:
- Teasing the employee about their religion
- Making insensitive stereotypes based on religion
- Using religious slurs to harass an individual
- Discriminating against or harassing an employee based on clothing that is typically associated with a certain religion
- Laying off “foreigners” or “foreign people” before other employees simply due to their religion and/or religious beliefs
- Denying the employee opportunities because of their religion
- Overly monitoring and scrutinizing the employee
- Unfairly disciplining the employee
- Denying the employee benefits
- Refusing to rehire the employee if they were fired
In California, the principal statute governing employment discrimination is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) (Govt C §§12900–12996). This statute protects the right of all persons to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age (at least 40), military and veteran status, or pregnancy. (Govt C §§12940(a), 12941, 12945(a)). This statute does not only protect paid employees but also extends to individuals who are unpaid interns and volunteers. (Govt C §12940(j)).
If you believe you have been treated differently because of your religion, give us a call at 855-IM-FIRED for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys have substantial experience with these types of cases representing individuals who have been discriminated against in the past or who are currently experiencing discrimination because of their religion.
There are no up-front costs and you do not pay any attorneys’ fees unless we get a recovery in the case.
Contact our Los Angeles California employment attorneys and lawyers now for all of your employee rights’ needs!
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