Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
Being treated differently in the workplace can be an unfortunate affair, but it can be even more demoralizing if your workplace peers discriminate based on your faith.
Religion can be an incredibly delicate topic in the workplace, especially because it can be an emotionally charged, deeply personal topic for most. Fortunately, most employees have protections against being treated differently and negatively for their religion (or lack thereof). Trust the advice of a Tampa employment attorney at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens to help you understand if your rights have been violated.
Defining Religious Discrimination
Religious discrimination occurs when people treat others differently solely based on their religious affiliation. In the workplace, this can manifest as negative reception of religious beliefs, religious practices, and any requests for accommodation of these beliefs. It also includes being treated differently during the employment process – such as not being hired for believing (or not believing) in a certain religion.
Examples of religious discrimination are:
- Not being hired due to your religious beliefs
- Being fired due to your religious beliefs
- Being harassed and ostracized
- Not being promoted due to your faith
- Failing to accommodate your beliefs, such as not working on the Sabbath
Types of Religious Discrimination
Religious discrimination comes in many shapes and sizes – often, it’s not as blatant as you may think. There are three types of religious discrimination:
- Disparate treatment. This is the most direct form of religious discrimination, in which people of a particular religion are specifically targeted. This is intentional discrimination, such as when a policy explicitly limits those of a particular religion – or when an employer specifically states that prospective employees must practice a certain faith in order to be considered for a job.
- Disparate impact. This form of discrimination is when a policy is put in place that is seemingly neutral, but nonetheless serves to exclude those of a particular religion. For example, a dress code policy that prohibits hats and headwear in the office indirectly affects those who subscribe to a religion that requires hijabs or any kind of headwear.
- Hostile work environment. This form of discrimination is when employers allow their employees to harass their coworkers on the basis of his or her faith. This is a direct, hateful form of discrimination that creates an intimidating, abusive work environment. If the company is aware of this discrimination and does not act on it, they may be held liable for any and all damages incurred.
Religious Discrimination Laws
Religious discrimination in the workplace is protected by both federal and state laws.
On the federal level, most forms of workplace discrimination are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law states that it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals because of their religion in all terms and conditions of employment, including:
- Other job opportunities
Additionally, Title VII requires employers to accommodate any religious practices of an employee, unless doing so creates “undue hardship” on the employer. This includes things such as flexible scheduling and taking days off to observe religious holidays. Under Title VII, employers are also expected to enforce policies that prevent other employees within the company from taking part in religious discrimination in the workplace.
Employees are protected from religious discrimination in the workplace on the state level too. The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 explicitly prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of religion, as well as other statuses, such as race, color, sex, and age.
How to File a Religious Discrimination Claim
If you believe you’ve been unfairly harassed and targeted due to your religious beliefs and/or faith, you can file a religious discrimination claim against your employer. This occurs in two main steps:
- Evidence gathering. This can be one of the most difficult parts of a discrimination claim, as concrete evidence is usually not found except in the most egregious cases. In more subtle instances, discrimination can be a “he said, she said” situation that may not work to your advantage. It’s best to record any and all actions that could be interpreted as religious discrimination or any other sort of disparate impact – in which you are clearly being treated differently than other employees. A great idea is to gather witness statements from your coworkers – especially if they have the same experiences. One of them could be invaluable to your discrimination claim.
- Filing a claim of religious discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the government entity that handles any claims of discrimination in the workplace. Any official declaration of religious discrimination from the EEOC almost always guarantees that you have a good chance to recover full compensation for your damages.
Experienced Lawyers in Religious and Workplace Discrimination
Any claims against workplace discrimination take meticulous care for maximum compensation, but religious discrimination claims in particular require experience, education, and dedication in order for success. Fortunately, the law offices of Florin Gray Bouzas Owens have the know-how in discrimination claims to take the stress off your shoulders, and put money in your pockets. Protecting the rights of employees is our forte, and representing the worker (and not the corporation) is our passion.
Contact us today for a free consultation – if we choose to start the litigation process, you won’t pay a penny unless you win.