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Are you a victim of religious discrimination at work?

If you have a deep devotion to your religion, you are like many in California and across the country. You likely find direction and comfort in your faith, and the precepts upon which it is based permeate many areas of your life. Far from being something you must keep secret, your freedom to worship as you choose is protected by the laws of the nation.

This means that your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your religion. Whether you are a member of one of the traditional organized religions or of a sect that is not widely known, you have the right to practice your faith as long as it does not create a hardship for your employer.

Recognizing religious discrimination

For whatever reason, your employer or supervisor may have negative feelings toward your religion or toward religion in general. When this happens, you may find yourself on the receiving end of unjust treatment. Some examples of this include the following:

  • Refusing to hire you because of your religious affiliation
  • Paying you less money solely because of your faith
  • Passing you over for promotions and raises for no reason related to your merit
  • Harassing you or allowing other employees to harass you for your religious beliefs
  • Transferring you or assigning you distasteful tasks as a challenge to your faith

Perhaps most important to you is your right to practice your religion, such as needing time off for religious observances or time during the work day to pray privately as your faith requires. You may observe your faith by wearing certain clothing, such as headwear, or a symbol around your neck. Your religion may determine how you wear your hair. Your employer should make every effort to accommodate these observances, and you can try having frank discussions if your employer is unfamiliar with your practices.

Fighting for your rights

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that your employer does not need to make accommodations for religion if those exceptions:

  • Compromise the safety of the workplace
  • Create a situation where the business becomes inefficient
  • Place your workload on your co-workers
  • Violate the rights of others in the workplace

You may disagree if your boss claims your religion interferes with the smooth running of the business or creates a safety hazard. If so, it will be important for you to keep careful logs of any discrimination against you based on your faith. While you may feel uneasy about seeking legal redress for unfair treatment, the law also protects you from retaliation if you report religious discrimination.

An attorney can review your situation and discuss your legal options.

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