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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment. The Act also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee, unless to do so would create an undue hardship upon the employer. Flexible scheduling, voluntary substitutions or swaps, job reassignments and lateral transfers are examples of accommodating an employee’s religious beliefs.
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IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION
- An employer cannot make decisions about employment which are based on the employee’s religious beliefs or practices. These include hiring, firing, promoting, assignment of work responsibility and workloads. The only exception to this rule is if the employee’s religion is a bona fide occupational qualification. A BFOQ is an essential part of the employee’s job such as requiring a Catholic priest to belong to a Catholic church.
- Employers cannot schedule examinations or other selection activities in conflict with a current or prospective employee’s religious need, inquire about an applicants future availability at certain times, maintain a restrictive dress code, or refuse to allow observance of a Sabbath or religious holiday, unless the employer can provide that no doing so would cause an undue hardship.
- An employer can claim undue hardship when accommodating an employee's religious practices if allowing such practices requires more than ordinary administrative costs. Undue hardship also may be shown if changing a bona-fide seniority system to accommodate employees' religious practices denies another employee the job or shift preference guaranteed by the seniority system.
- An employee whose religious practices prohibit payment of union dues to a labor organization cannot be required to pay the dues, but may pay an equal sum to a charitable organization.
- An employee has the right to religious expression at his place of work. However, the employer may prohibit this only if it significantly affects productivity in the workplace.
- An employer has a legal obligation to prevent religious harassment by other employees. The workplace must be free from religious harassment which can create an intimidating and hostile work environment.
All religious discrimination practices in the workplace should be reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You may also file a civil action against your employer to recover lost wages, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages which are meant to punish the employer for their conduct.
If you believe that you have been the victim of religious discrimination, contact our office, anytime, at 800-437-2571 for a free, no obligation consultation with one of our qualified employment law attorneys to determine if you have a potential discrimination lawsuit or use our convenient Confidential Contact Form.