The law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of his or her religion or personal choice to not maintain a religious belief. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against religious discrimination in hiring, firing, or any other terms and conditions of employment. This means, for example, that an employer cannot segregate employees to one job or assign an employee because of a person’s religious beliefs. The law protects an individual’s right to participate (or not participate) in a religious activity as a condition of employment. Employers are also required to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of applicants and employees, unless doing so would cause a burden on the operation of the employer’s business. An example of a religious accommodation is an adjustment to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice religion, offering an employee a flexible work schedule, providing the opportunity for voluntary shift substitution, job reassignment, or allowing an exception to dress codes for headscarves or other religious attire.
The lawyers of Correia & Puth, PLLC are dedicated to advancing and protecting the religious rights of employees in the workplace. We have the experience and commitment to fight employers who have wrongfully discriminated against a person because of their religious beliefs or their personal choices. We negotiate resolutions with employers, and file complaints in courts or with government agencies, when appropriate, on behalf of individuals who have confronted discrimination in the workplace. We are here to craft a legal strategy to achieve the best results for our clients, motivated by our commitment to workplace fairness.
“Title VII’s prohibition of religious discrimination tells us that, as a country, we value individuals’ different beliefs and personal choices. At Correia & Puth, we are committed to ensuring that our clients are able to practice their religion or beliefs without fear of discrimination or retaliation.”
The law against religious discrimination prohibits employers from considering an individual’s religious beliefs in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to organized religions, such as Islam, Christianity, or Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Religious discrimination can involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious organization or group. Title VII also protects those who do not have a religious affiliation from religious discrimination, such as an employer that discriminated against an employee who does not share the same belief system as them.
Title VII prohibits harassment of an employee because of his or her religion. Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s religious beliefs or practices. Actionable harassment can also exist where an employer is forcing its personal beliefs on its employees. To bring a charge of discrimination, the harassment must be so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or if it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
In some situations, religious institutions may be exempt from some civil rights laws. While such exemptions may provide a defense to a discrimination claim in some circumstances, religious institutions are not permitted to discriminate on grounds other than religion. For example, a Catholic institution usually cannot not refuse to hire African-Americans or individuals with disabilities in the name of religion, but in some instances it may protect the institution from certain practices that might otherwise be discriminatory in a non-religious setting.
The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause an undue burden on the operations of the employer’s business. Requested accommodations may be authorizing an employee to take a day off each year for a religious holiday, to refrain from work every week on his or her Sabbath, to wear religious garb or headscarf, or to have a place to pray. For example, this may mean an employee wears particular head coverings or other religious dress, or wears certain hairstyles or facial hair. An employer cannot simply refuse to accommodate an employee, but must try to arrange to allow the employee to meet his or her. If the employer reasonably needs more information, the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process to discuss the request.
The law prohibits retaliation against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on religion or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.
If you have been a target of religious discrimination, failure to accommodate, or retaliation due to religious practices or requests for accommodation, the lawyers at Correia & Puth can help you obtain relief and hold your employer accountable. We can guide you through the process of making a complaint to your employer, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or to a state or local agency. We zealously represent our clients in negotiating a resolution with employers, and we file lawsuits to achieve our clients’ goals in court where appropriate. Please call us at 202-602-6500 or contact us online today.