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What is considered religious discrimination?

Indiana employees who are committed to a particular faith might worry about religious discrimination issues that might affect their ability to express those beliefs in various ways. It is helpful to understand factors that may constitute religious discrimination so that offenses can be identified if they occur. The unfavorable treatment of individuals due to their religious beliefs is considered discrimination. This can include such treatment in connection with organized religions, but it may also include unfavorable treatment of those who have other religious, moral, or ethical beliefs that are sincerely held. Such discrimination could also include situations in which an individual is treated differently because of an association with or marriage to someone who has a particular religious affiliation.

It is illegal to discriminate for religious reasons in connection with any term or condition for employment. The law also prohibits harassment because of an individual's religious affiliation or beliefs. Isolated incidents may not be considered as religious discrimination, but if such behavior occurs often enough or severely enough to create a hostile work environment, then it is considered to be discrimination or harassment. Similarly, an adverse decision such as firing because of such hostilities could be considered discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination, sex discrimination, and other types of discrimination, also addresses religion, prohibiting negative actions such as job segregation. Reasonable accommodation is required, ensuring that an employee's practices and beliefs must be accommodated within reason as long as they don't cause more than minimal burdens to company operations.

An individual who has been transferred or demoted in connection with religious apparel, beliefs, or absences might seek counsel from an employment lawyer to discuss the situation and consider steps for filing a complaint with the EEOC. In some cases, it might be possible to seek restoration to a previous position.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Religious Discrimination", November 01, 2014

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