According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees are protected from discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, nationality, and religion. Any discrimination against these legally protected classes is illegal.
When an organization treats an employee differently due to their religion or religious beliefs and practices, it is religious discrimination. If an employee requests accommodation for their spiritual practices and the company fails to provide them, it may also be religious discrimination.
Furthermore, if a company treats an employee differently due to their lack of religious beliefs, their actions may also be discriminatory.
Religious discrimination in the workplace can take a severe toll on someone’s mental and physical health – resulting in a hostile work environment for everyone.
So, how does religious discrimination in the workplace affect employees? And how can a religious discrimination lawyer help?
The Effects of Religious Discrimination
An employee who discriminated against due to their religion or religious practices can sustain psychological damage, resulting in low self-esteem, depression, and difficulty forming relationships.
Religious discrimination is often linked to gender and race discrimination and tends to affect marginalized people. It can lead to an extremely hostile work environment – causing low morale, higher turnover rates, and even acts of violence or hostility among employees.
Religious discrimination can occur at any stage of the employment cycle – meaning it can happen during the hiring phase, promotion opportunities, and termination. It can negatively impact an employee’s work benefits and salary and even decrease the employee’s participation levels in team-building activities and social events.
What Qualifies as a Religious Belief?
Religious discrimination doesn’t just happen to people who belong to the major organized religions of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, or Islam.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also protects religious or spiritual beliefs that are sincere, ethical, and moral.
Employees have a legally protected right to exercise their religious beliefs. Wearing specific clothing, praying, dietary preferences, and celebrating religious holidays are protected religious activities.
The Civil Rights Act also protects less common religions and philosophical, ethical, and moral beliefs involving religion. What the Civil Rights Act does not cover, however, are political views that are not moral, philosophical, and rooted in faith.
Furthermore, employees also have the right to lack religious beliefs – such as atheism or agnosticism. This lack of religion must be respected by employers.
Employees who are atheists or have different religious beliefs aren’t obligated to take part in collective worship. Suppose an employer insists that an atheist employee must take part in religious ceremonies. In that case, it infringes the employee’s right to not participate in any spiritual practices.
If You Experience Religious Discrimination
If you experience religious discrimination at work, you have legal rights. Local, federal, and state laws protect employees against religious discrimination.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against due to your religion or religious beliefs, contact an experienced religious discrimination attorney. An attorney will examine the facts, determine whether you have a case, and advise you on the next steps to take.