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Five Potential Signs of Religious Discrimination

As Steven Sack says in his book, Fired!, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of employees and prospective employees.” However, religious discrimination is a surprisingly common phenomenon in workplaces across the country, although many people do not realize it. Here are five ways employers may discriminate against employees on religious grounds:

 

  • Prohibiting clothing or hair styles worn by certain faiths

    • One of the more subtle ways that some employers will discriminate against people of certain faiths is by prohibiting certain hairstyles or types of clothing in their dress code. For example, they may prohibit the kinds of head coverings worn by Jewish or Muslim people, or prohibit long facial hair like those commonly worn by Sikh men. When these restrictions are imposed without allowances for people of different faiths, it may be a sign of religious discrimination.


  • Refusing to grant time off for religious observances

    • Another potential sign of religious discrimination comes in the form of when people are allowed to take time off. By law, employers are supposed to give time off for religious observances, but some employers may refuse to give time off for people from other faiths. In some cases, they may even deliberately create a schedule that forces people to come in during an important festival or celebration as a sign of hostility.


  • Harassing an employee because of their faith

    • Not all forms of religious discrimination are necessarily that subtle, however. Name-calling, insults, and threats are also potential signs of religious discrimination, especially if they involve the use of derogatory slurs against a person’s faith. Keeping records of such incidents is especially important, as they can be signs of discriminatory intent on the part of your employer.


  • Dismissing or refusing to hire someone because of their faith

    • Of course, it is easy to avoid discriminating against someone of another faith if you simply refuse to allow them to work in your workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act explicitly prohibits employers from firing, or refusing to hire, someone on the basis of their religion, but that does not stop some employers from doing so anyway. This is not always obvious, however, and some employers will use formal discipline or performance reviews as a pretext for an otherwise religiously motivated firing.


  • Retaliating against someone for reporting religious discrimination

    • Finally, when an employer is reported for potential religious discrimination, they may choose to retaliate against the person who made the report. This could be the person who originally was discriminated against, or simply a witness who chose to report misconduct. When this happens, or when you experience any type of discrimination, it is important to get a lawyer with experience handling religious discrimination claims.


Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or stevensackatty@hotmail.com.

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