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Best Ohio Religious Discrimination Attorney Answer: Do I actually have to be a member of the religion my boss thinks I am a member of to be able to sue for religious discrimination? What is “perceived as” discrimination? What should I do if I think I have been discriminated against because of my boss’s mistaken beliefs about me?

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As our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged before, employees who are discriminated against for being disabled – even when they are not actually disabled – can still bring a claim against their employer for disability discrimination under the “regarded as” or “perceived as” theory of discrimination. After all, it is the discrimination itself that is legal, and your boss should not be able to get away with it just because she turns out to have been wrong about whether you are disabled. (See Can Job Applications Require Me To Disclose My Disability? Lawyer Top Reply!; What Should I Do If I Was Fired Today In Part Because I’m Disabled? I Need A Lawyer.; Can I Claim That My Temporary Condition Is A Disability Under The Americans With Disabilities Act? I Need A Lawyer!).

Courts have found that this “perceived as” theory can support other claims of discrimination. For example, in Fogleman v. Mercy Hosp., Inc., the United States Third District Court of Appeals explained that because the focus of a discrimination claim is on the subjective beliefs of the discriminator, all that matters is what the discriminator beliefs about the employee, rather than whether those beliefs are accurate:

“Discriminat[ion]” refers to the practice of making a decision based on a certain criterion, and therefore focuses on the decision maker’s subjective intent. What follows, the word “because,” specifies the criterion that the employer is prohibited from using as a basis for decision making. The laws, therefore, focus on the employer’s subjective reasons for taking adverse action against an employee, so it matters not whether the reasons behind the employer’s discriminatory animus are actually correct as a factual matter.

As an illustration by analogy, imagine a Title VII discrimination case in which an employer refuses to hire a prospective employee because he thinks that the applicant is a Muslim. The employer is still discriminating on the basis of religion even if the applicant he refuses to hire is not in fact a Muslim. What is relevant is that the applicant, whether Muslim or not, was treated worse than he otherwise would have been for reasons prohibited by the statute. We have adopted this same approach in the labor law context, where we have consistently held that an employer’s discharge of an employee for discriminatory reasons amounts to illegal retaliation even if it is based on the employer’s mistaken belief that the employee engaged in protected activity.

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Indeed, it seems that this logic goes hand in hand with the United States Supreme Court‘s recently ruling in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., in which the Supreme Court held that an employer’s motive, rather than actual knowledge, was what mattered in analyzing discrimination claims. (See Can My Boss Tell Me Not To Wear Religious Articles Of Clothing At Work? Best Lawyer Update; Can I Sue My Employer For Not Accommodating My Religious Dress? I Need A Lawyer!).

All employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their religion. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race/color, religion, gender/sex or national origin.

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 at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Spitz, The Employee’s 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.


The materials available at the top of this religious discrimination blog and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I …”, “What should I do …,” “Can my boss discriminate against me because I’m (Jewish/Muslim/Mormon/Hindu)?” or “I was fired for my religious beliefs. The answer to “What can I do?”, is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular religious discrimination or other employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.

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