Founded on the principles of equality and freedom, the United States is frequently referred to as a cultural melting pot. Spanning from California to New York, our country’s rich and diverse landscape is comprised of people of varying nationalities, ideologies, races, and religions. While this diversity is traditionally celebrated as a positive and defining attribute, members of some racial and religious minorities suffer harassment and discrimination in both their personal and professional lives.
In a recent ProPublica poll of some 3,000 Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh New York City residents, nearly 40 percent reported suffering acts of verbal and physical harassment, discrimination, or assault. These acts spilled over into victims’ workplaces, with many reporting extreme emotional distress and financial losses.
Religious Protections In U.S. Workplaces
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against workers on the basis of sex, color, race, national origin or religion. Workers who believe they have been the subject of harassment or discrimination at work because of their religious beliefs may choose to discuss options for recourse with an employment lawyer.
What Acts May Constitute Religious Discrimination In The Workplace?
By law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs. Employers that fail to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs may violate federal law. Such accommodations may relate to:
- Dress code exemptions related to specific clothing, such as a headscarf
- Grooming code exemptions, such as allowing an employee to maintain a beard of a certain length
- Work schedule accommodations, such as to observe religious holidays or
- Attend special religious ceremonies or events, or
- To observe daily prayers
- Accommodating dietary needs and restrictions
Examples of acts that may constitute religious discrimination include:
- Verbal attacks that disparage an employee’s religious affiliations or beliefs
- Physical assault incited by an employee’s religious affiliations or beliefs
- Failing to select a qualified job candidate due to his or her religious affiliations or beliefs
- Passing over an otherwise qualified employee for a promotion due to his or her religious affiliations or beliefs
Taking Legal Action In The Wake of Religious Discrimination At Work
If you believe that an employer or co-worker engaged in harassing or discriminatory acts against you because of your religious beliefs, an attorney can help you understand and assert your rights under the law.