Religious discrimination still exists in California – and unfortunately, it’s far more common than most people know. Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against people because of religion (or a lack of religious belief) when it comes to hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment, it still happens. Here are seven religious discrimination facts that most people don’t know – and what you can do if you’re a victim of this type of illegal discrimination.
7 Religious Discrimination Facts Most People Don’t Know
If you’ve been the victim of religious discrimination, you know it doesn’t feel good – but there may be something you can do about it. You may need to talk to a Glendale discrimination attorney who understands the law and how it’s designed to protect you. In addition to the Civil Rights Act, California has its own laws to protect people, too. Check out these seven religious discrimination facts that most people don’t know:
- Employers can’t segregate people based on religion.
- Employers have to reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ religious beliefs and practices.
- Harassment based on religion may be unlawful.
- Retaliation against an employee for opposing discriminative practices is unlawful.
- Religion is defined very broadly in Title VII.
- Some religious organizations are exempt from religious discrimination laws.
- Employers can ban proselytizing in the workplace.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
Religious Discrimination Fact #1: Employers can’t segregate employees based on religion.
The law prohibits employers from segregating employees based on religion, such as assigning an employee to a position where he or she won’t deal with customers because of an actual or feared customer preference.
Religious Discrimination Fact #2: Employers have to reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ religious beliefs and practices.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees when it comes to religious beliefs and practices in most cases. However, if making an accommodation would create an undue hardship on the employer, it’s not required under the law. Some examples of reasonable accommodations can include things like:
- Flexible scheduling
- Voluntary shift swaps with other employees
- Job reassignments
- Exceptions to dress or grooming rules
Religious Discrimination Fact #3: Harassment based on religion may be unlawful.
The law prohibits religious harassment of employees. As with most harassment cases, the law doesn’t cover offhand remarks or one-time comments; however, it does cover harassment that’s so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. The law also prohibits harassment that results in an adverse employment decision. For example, if a supervisor uses a performance review to harass an employee based on the employee’s religion (such as giving a bad review that causes the employee negative consequences), that’s an unlawful form of harassment.
Religious Discrimination Fact #4: Retaliation against an employee for opposing discriminatory practices is unlawful.
Employers cannot retaliate against workers for opposing discriminatory employment practices, or for filing a complaint about religious discrimination. Likewise, employers can’t retaliate against employees for testifying about it, or for participating in an investigation, proceeding or litigation related to this type of discrimination.
Religious Discrimination Fact #5: Religion is defined very broadly in Title VII.
Under Title VII, which protects all aspects of religious observance, practice and belief, religion is very broadly defined. It includes traditional and organized religions that everyone knows about as well as new and uncommon religions. It also includes people who have no religious beliefs at all, and it covers those who subscribe to a belief system that no one else does.
Religious beliefs include theistic beliefs – such as those that include a belief in a deity – as well as non-theistic beliefs, such as moral and ethical beliefs that are “sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.”
Religious Discrimination Fact #6: Some religious organizations are exempt from religious discrimination laws.
Religious organizations can give employment preference to members of their own religion, but only if the organization’s “purpose and character are primarily religious.”
Religious Discrimination Fact #7: Employers can ban proselytizing in the workplace.
Employers can, in some cases, ban proselytizing in the workplace when allowing it would create an undue hardship that could effect other workers, customers or business operations. If someone’s proselytizing interferes with his or her work (or with another employee’s work), for example, the employer does not have to allow it. Likewise, it’s okay for an employer to tell employees that they can’t proselytize to customers or clients in a way that disrupts business, or if it looks like the employee is sharing the employer’s own message.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Religious Discrimination?
If you believe you’ve been a victim of religious discrimination, we may be able to help you. Call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below for a free consultation with an experienced attorney – we’ll help determine the best course of action for your case.