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Are you dealing with religious discrimination at work?

Whether you are a company employee or an applicant for a job opening, the law offers protection from any harassment or other unfair practices in the workplace that you might encounter because of your faith.

Religious discrimination is forbidden in any aspect of employment. An employer must provide what is known as “reasonable accommodation” so that you can practice your religion without interference.

Reasonable accommodation

As long as it does not cause undue hardship for the company, your employer must grant you reasonable accommodation to practice your faith. However, this is a term that different companies can interpret differently. You may not be able to work Saturdays, for example, because you attend religious services, but your boss thinks he is complying with the requirement if he gives you two Saturdays off a month. Federal courts hold that in order to stay within the bounds of the statute, the employer does not have to eliminate the religious conflict completely.

Harassment

Harassment can include offensive remarks about your religious beliefs or practices. Simple teasing is allowable, but when harassment is so frequent that it creates a hostile work environment or leads to your termination or demotion, it is illegal.

Job segregation

The reasonable accommodations your employer puts in place should include your attire and grooming preferences based on your religion, and company policy should reflect this. For instance, if you wear a Muslim headscarf and your job is dealing with the public in some capacity, your employer should not move you to a back-office job where, in your boss’s opinion, your attire will not matter. Your employer should also never pass you up for promotion or leave you to stagnate in a certain position because of your faith.

Retaliation

The law is also clear about retaliation regarding religious discrimination. Equal Employment Opportunity laws prohibit punishing employees or job applicants for attempting to free themselves from discriminatory practices, such as harassment. Your employer cannot prohibit you from requesting reasonable accommodation for your religious practices, and your employer cannot punish you for participating in a complaint process. If you feel you were a victim of religious discrimination, do not hesitate to assert your rights.

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