8 Facts About Religious Discrimination at Work
Despite incredible strides in equality for American workers, there remains an alarming amount of discrimination in the workplace. While LGBTQ rights take the spotlight, and they should, one area deserving of a focus is religious discrimination. If you’ve been discriminated against because of your religion, then here are eight facts you need to know.
- More People Are Covered Than You Might Think
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, everyone from government to local employees are protected against religious discrimination. That includes federal and state employees, as well. In the private sector, any employer with at least fifteen employees must also adhere to the law. Most states also include laws about small businesses with less than fifteen employees.
- All Beliefs Are Covered
You don’t have to belong to a large, organized religion for Title VII to apply to you. Your beliefs just have to be religious in nature and sincerely held. The same is true for holding strong beliefs against religion. For instance, a business can not refuse to hire an atheist.
- Discrimination Takes Many Forms
While harassment and termination are the most commonly thought of forms of discrimination, they aren’t the only ones. An employer cannot:
- Refuse to hire someone
- Promote individuals
- Treat any person differently
- Refuse promotions
- Refuse pay raises
- Refuse time off
- Make or deny reasonable accommodations
- Or act differently in any way based solely on their or an employee’s religious beliefs
- Reasonable Accommodation
Various religions come with noticeable practices and beliefs. Some individuals might not cut their hair, wear certain clothing, take the time to pray throughout the day, or evangelize. Employers cannot restrict these practices so long as they do not pose undue hardships on the business.
- The EEOC Enforces the Law Federally
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal department that enforces these laws. If your organization has more than fifteen employees, your attorney will work with EEOC to determine the correct course of action. State agencies handle claims for businesses with less than fifteen employees.
- Some Organizations Do Not Fall Under Title VII
The one exception to the rule is a religious run organization. That includes corporations, associations, education institutes, and societies. These organizations are allowed to discriminate in the hiring process to ensure that their employees align with their religious values.
- You Cannot be Discriminated Against for Filing a Grievance
Many individuals fear retaliation from their employer if they decide to file a religious discrimination grievance. However, doing so would only bring on a tougher legal battle for your employer. They must allow you to continue working without any further discrimination or retaliation during the course of your claim. If not, you are entitled to collect compensation for that as well.
- Honesty and Openness Are Key
Your employer has the right to ask questions about your religion and the accommodations it might include. Hopefully, they do so during the hiring process. This allows both parties to have an open, honest conversation that works to everyone’s benefit.