Best Ohio Religious Discrimination Attorney Answer: What recourse do I have if my boss calls me stereotypical names because of my religion? Can I be fired for defending my religious beliefs to my manager? When do religious-based comments cross the line at work and become employment discrimination?
In today’s cultural climate, we often see and read about issues dealing with religious profiling across the globe. These issues can – and often do – find their way into the employment world.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly prohibits religious discrimination in the federal context, while R.C. 4112.02 prohibits religious discrimination in Ohio. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) tells us that “Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs . . . Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion.” (See Will The EEOC Stop Discrimination Against Me? Unlikely!; File With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? – Call The Right Attorney; Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Reading This!).
Religious discrimination can also be the basis for unlawful harassment. The EEOC advises that harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Regarding the second part of the EEOC’s definition of unlawful harassment, just what makes conduct “severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive” when it comes to religious discrimination at work?
A good example recently comes out of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In Khan v. County of Cook, the employee was a Muslim who worked for over twenty years as a hospital clerk. During a shift, he and his supervisor got into a dispute about his lunch break, at which point the supervisor called him “Bin Laden” and he responded with verbal threats. The employee was terminated for insubordination.
The employee brought a wrongful termination suit against the hospital, in part alleging a hostile work environment based on his religion. The Court found his hostile work environment claim to have enough merit to allow it to proceed to trial, in part due to the frequency with which the slur was used and the number of people who used the slur against him:
“[R]eferring to colleagues with such disrespectful language” . . . is “deplorable and has no place in the workforce” but that courts should nonetheless consider the “totality of the circumstances, including: (1) the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; (2) how offensive a reasonable person would deem it to be; (3) whether it is physically threatening or humiliating conduct as opposed to verbal abuse; (4) whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance; and (5) whether it was directed at the victim.” Nichols, 755 F.3d at 601 (citing Lambert v. Peri Formworks Sys., Inc., 723 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2013)).
Here, the record presents a close call as to whether Khan has met his burden: on the one hand, the alleged harassment is not physically threatening and is not alleged to have impacted his ability to do his job. On the other hand, the evidence shows that the Bid Laden comment was more than just a one-time occurrence and that the other employees followed [the Plaintiff’s supervisor]’s poor example and adopted the slur. And, without question, the slur was directed at him and only at him. Given the relative burdens of persuasion, the Court finds that Khan has offered enough to get to a jury on this point.
Due to the hostilities we see towards Muslims in modern society, we can expect to see more cases like Khan. However, religious discrimination and harassment can occur against members of all faiths, whether it be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or others.
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 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.
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 The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.