Federal, state, and local laws prohibit discrimination against employees based on their religious beliefs or practices. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful to discrimination against employees and job applicants because they belong to organized religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism, or because they possess sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs, even if those beliefs are new, uncommon, or non-theistic. Title VII also protects employees who experience discrimination because they do not subscribe to any religious practices or beliefs. In addition, Title VII’s protections against religious discrimination apply to employees who suffer discrimination because they are married to or otherwise associated with a person of a particular religion.
Under Title VII and various state and local laws, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on their religious beliefs or practices—or discriminating against an employee who does not share their employer’s religion. That means that employers are prohibited from harassing employees or taking adverse employment actions against them based on religion, such as denying promotions or raises, imposing discipline, or terminating employees based on their religion.
In addition to barring discrimination, Title VII and various state and local laws affirmatively require employers to grant reasonable religious accommodations to employees, such as schedule changes or leave so employees can observe religious holidays and exceptions to dress code and grooming policies to accommodate employees’ religious attire or grooming practices. Such accommodations are required unless an employer can demonstrate that the accommodations would present an undue hardship.
Examples of unlawful religious discrimination include:
- Creating a hostile work environment by using anti-Semitic slurs in the workplace
- Discriminating against an employee for wearing a hijab, yarmulke, or turban
- Refusing a schedule change to accommodate an employee’s Sabbath observance
- Terminating an employee because she will not participate in prayer with the employer
At Sanford Heisler Sharp, we are committed to vindicating the rights of employees who experience religious discrimination. Attorneys in our Discrimination and Harassment Practice Group have successfully pursued religious discrimination claims in both public litigation and in private, confidential negotiations, recovering millions of dollars on behalf of clients who have stepped up to challenge such discrimination.
To learn about how Sanford Heisler Sharp could help you in asserting your employment rights, reach out to our Discrimination and Harassment Practice Group.