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Religious discrimination within the workplace

The choice to practice a religion is your own decision. The right to practice your own religion, or no religion at all, is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Religious discrimination may occur in your workplace when an employer or coworker treats a person harshly because of his or her religious beliefs. Treating someone differently because they married an individual that associates with a religion can also be a form of discrimination.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, traditional and organized religions are not the only beliefs that the law protects. The law also protects people who have “sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.”

Protection under the law

The law prohibits harassment because of an individual’s religious beliefs.

  • Offensive remarks
  • Teasing
  • Isolation

Above are just some of the circumstances that may classify as harassment. Though the law doesn’t ban light teasing, harassment becomes illegal when it turns frequent and severe to the extent that there is a hostile work environment.

Title VII prohibits discrimination toward employees because of their religion, or their lack of beliefs. This means that your religion cannot influence the terms of your employment. An employer may not include your religion in making the decision to hire you or not, along with the decision to fire.

The Supreme Court has upheld a decision that says employers must provide accommodations for an employee even if they were not upfront about a religious practice. If the employer suspects the necessity for accommodations, they should follow this new standard regardless of other policies within the company. This needs to be done in cases that do not cause undue hardship.

It is important to know that you may bring a religious discrimination suit forward for not only harassment by your boss, but co-workers and clients also. Every case is different but one thing stands true, the law protects you from workplace discrimination based on your religious beliefs.

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