It is illegal for employers to discriminate based on employees’ religion or religious beliefs. Whether you’re an atheist, Jewish, Mormon, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Protestant, Roman Catholic, or a follower of different religion, you are protected from discrimination based on your religion, religious beliefs, and religious practices. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Ohio Unlawful Discriminatory Practice Statute, R.C. § 4112.02, prohibit religious discrimination in employment. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”): “Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.” (See Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Doing This First; File With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? Call The Right Attorney; Should I Get A Lawyer To Help Me File An EEOC Charge?; and Should I File With The EEOC On My Own? Call The Right Attorney).
Despite the fact that this country was founded by pilgrims escaping religious persecution, discrimination based on religion is still are large problem in the United States, and growing. According to EEOC statistics, religious discrimination complaints in workplace settings have more than doubled since 1997. According to the FBI, the overwhelming majority of religiously motivated hate crimes (70.1 percent) are directed against Jews.
Our religious employment discrimination attorneys at The Spitz Law Firm primarily look at the following to determine if you may have a religion based claim:
- Discrimination: The federal Title VII and Ohio Revised Code protects employees from being fired, demoted, or denied benefits because of their religious beliefs. There are generally two types of religious discrimination: (1) disparate-treatment discrimination is when religion is a motivating factor in taking an adverse employment action against an employee (which would include failure to hire, demotions, pay reductions, and wrongful termination); and (2) disparate-impact discrimination occurs when an employer’s purported neutral policy or practice has a significant negative impact on one religious groups. Under either of these circumstances, the aggrieved employee may be entitled to reinstatement, lost wages, as well as compensatory, and/or punitive damages.
- Failure to Accommodate: Employees that are followers of a recognized faith also have a right to reasonable accommodation that allows them to remain in accordance with their religious tenets. Both Ohio and federal law requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause an unreasonable burden on the employer’s business. For example, your boss, manager, or supervisor may have to provide flexible scheduling or shift substitutions to allow an employee to attend religious services or obey the Sabbath. Another example might include requiring an alteration of dress and uniform policies, such as allowing religious head coverings or other dress (Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim headscarf); permitting certain hairstyles or facial hair (Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard); or not forcing the employee to wear certain garments consistent with religious prohibition against wearing such garments (such as pants or miniskirts). As always, what is considered a “reasonable” religious accommodation is not always clear and has been source of much litigation. If you feel that your religious beliefs have been denied a reasonable accommodation by your employer, it is best to discuss it immediately with a religious discrimination attorney.
- Imposing Religious Views: The Ohio and federal religious freedom law allows all of us to practice our religion, but we generally do not have the right to force our views upon others. This ban also applies to employers and these same religious protection employment laws prohibit workplace activities which require religious participation. For example, an employer cannot require its employees to take part in mandatory prayer services (even non-denominational) or to attend a particular church. However, private employers are free to express their own religious beliefs or practices in the workplace.
- Religious Harassment: Much like other protected classes (race/color, gender/sex, national origin, and age), bosses, managers, and supervisors are not allowed to harass employees based on their religion by calling them religious slurs or making fun of the employee’s religious practices. Likewise, once management observes or otherwise learns of such religious harassment, they must take action to immediately prevent such conduct from continuing.
Because religious discrimination and religion based harassment can occur in many different ways, it is always best to consult a qualified employment law attorney regarding the specifics of your case, but you should definitely call if you find yourself saying or searching for:
- My boss told me that he hates Jews and fired me today.
- My company is forcing me to work on the Sabbath and other religious holidays.
- The company I work for has a dress code that is against my religion.
- I was turned down for a job because my head scarf didn’t fit the company’s look policy.
- My supervisor called me a kike.
- My manager put a swastika on my locker.
- My job has a mandatory prayer time.
- A partner told me that as a Jew, I killed his savior.
- I was fired when my boss found out I am a practicing Islamic.
- My manager keeps telling me to go to his Church even though I am Mormon.
- I was demoted after I reported religious discrimination to HR.
- My supervisor said everyone has to believe in God and fired me because I’m an atheist.
- At an interview, I was told that I would not get the job unless I agreed to work on the Sabbath.
- My co-workers that go to the same temple as my boss get paid higher.
- I was fired when I reported to HR that my supervisor is anti-Semitic.
If you feel that you are being discriminated or harassed based on your religion or religious beliefs or that you were wrongfully terminated because of you are Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu or any other religion, the best course of action you can take is to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Cincinnati attorneys at (513) 818-3688. Call our Cleveland attorneys at (216) 291-4744. Call our Columbus attorneys at (614) 335-4685. Call our Toledo attorneys at (419) 960-5926. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with a religious discrimination attorney, who will be able to tell you what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them.
Because we know that many clients are not able to afford the costs of litigation up front, we take on more cases on a contingency fee basis than most firms. Contingency fee agreements mean that the client need not pay any fee for legal services unless and until our employment attorneys recover money and/or results on your race discrimination claim.