Religious discrimination and employer accommodations

Religious discrimination and employer accommodations

It is against the law to discriminate against an applicant or employee in the workplace based on his or her religious beliefs. This includes discrimination against people who practice traditional, organized religions and people who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. It applies to organizations with 15 or more employees and the regulations are set by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

It is against the law to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, benefits and other terms or conditions of employment.

Harassment

Employers are also prohibited from harassing a person based on his or her religion. This may include remarks or behavior that is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. Harassment can also include actions that result in adverse employment decisions that cause the victim to be fired or demoted, for example.

Accommodations

Employers must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, which means that the employer may have to make adjustments to the work environment so the employee can practice his or her religion. This might include offering a job reassignment or shift substitutions. However, an employer is not required to provide the accommodation if it would cause undue hardship.

It may also include making accommodations for the employee to wear head coverings, religious dress, certain hairstyles or facial hair and accommodating employees who are prohibited from wearing certain clothes by their religion.

If an employer is faced with an allegation of discrimination by an applicant or an employee, an experienced employment law attorney can help.