Religious Discrimination FAQ

Being able to go to work and enjoy the same opportunities as those around you is something that you hope is never called into question. While you may not expect your employer to share your religious beliefs, you still never expect that you will experience discrimination because of your religion.

Religious discrimination in the workplace can be a complicated situation to deal with. Your religion is something you hold very closely, and facing discrimination because of it can be particularly difficult.

What Is Religious Discrimination?

Religious discrimination is when an employer takes a negative action against an employee because of that employee's religion. It is also religious discrimination to take a negative action against an employee who does not practice a religion. Negative actions an employer might take include:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Refusal to make reasonable accommodations
  • Refusal to hire or promote
  • Change in work schedule or assigned duties

Discrimination is different from harassment. While there are protections for both, discrimination has to do with an action that your employer takes against you because of your religious beliefs. Harassment, on the other hand, can come from anyone in the workplace. Harassment often takes the form of insults or derogatory remarks.

Are There Laws That Provide Protection For Religious Discrimination?

There are federal laws that provide protections for victims of religious discrimination. Depending on where you live and work, there may also be state or local laws or company policies that provide further protection against religious discrimination.

Keep in mind that if you live or work in a place with religious discrimination laws or policies, those rules can offer more protection, but not less than the federal protections.

Are All Religions Protected?

All religions are protected under the federal protections against religious discrimination. Equally important, people who do not practice a religion are protected under the same laws. This means that your employer cannot take negative actions against you because of your religious beliefs or lack of them.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations?

Your employer has an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to allow you to practice your religion. While there may be limitations on what is reasonable for a particular business, religious accommodations may include:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Job reassignments or lateral transfers
  • Voluntary substitutions

What Should I Do If I Am A Victim Of Religious Discrimination?

You should start with reporting the incident to your human resources department or representative. Your company may already have a policy or procedure in place to help you make a report. You should follow the steps and directions you are given and keep your own record, including:

  • Actions your employer takes regarding the report
  • Additional incidents of religious discrimination
  • Meetings to discuss your report
  • Progress of your report

If there is no procedure in place or your company is not helping you find a resolution to your claim, talk to an attorney who understands employment and discrimination law. A lawyer can help you understand your case and what steps you need to take so you can move forward with your claim.

Can My Boss Retaliate If I Report Discrimination?

Your boss cannot retaliate against you if you make a report. Reporting discrimination as soon as possible after the incident is important to make sure that you have followed the legal guidelines for reporting, and for gathering evidence and information for your case.

Additionally, your boss cannot retaliate if you are asked to testify in the case of someone else who is making a religious discrimination claim.

What Are The Time Limitations On Making A Claim?

You should be aware that there are time limitations to making a claim. While those limitations may vary by state or within your company, generally, you have 180 days from the date of the incident to make a claim.