Helping Employees Protect Their Beliefs At Work
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 religions, 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.”
Despite the fact that this country was founded by pilgrims escaping religious persecution, discrimination based on religion is still a 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 Spitz, The Employee’s 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 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 group. 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 a reasonable accommodation that allows them to remain in accordance with their religious tenets. Both Ohio and federal law require 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 a 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 that 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.
Get A Free Consultation Call Us Today
Answers For Some Commonly Asked Religious Discrimination Questions
Being discriminated against at work because of your religion can be an isolating and disheartening experience. If you suspect you’ve been targeted at work because of your religious beliefs, here are a few questions you may have: