People of many religions call Indianapolis home and are active members of their religious communities. Sometimes their faith requires them to dress or groom a certain way, pray at certain times or attend religious services on certain days. Sometimes, though, your employer may order you to dress or groom in a way that violates your religious practices or orders you to work on days your religion requires you to attend services or take a day of rest or else you will lose your job. This can be very upsetting and rightly so. For this reason, federal law has prohibited religious discrimination in the workplace.
Federal law on religious discrimination
Under federal law, employers cannot discriminate against a worker based on the worker’s religion in any aspect of employment. This includes the hiring process, being terminated, being assigned projects, being promoted, training, workplace benefits and any other condition of employment. In addition, a person cannot be segregated in the workplace based on their religion.
Federal law on harassment
Federal law also prohibits harassment in the workplace based on religion that creates a hostile or offensive work environment or that leads to an adverse employment decision. Offensive remarks constitute harassment. However, mere teasing, offhand remarks and minor isolated incidents are not indicative of the hostile work environment necessary to show illegal harassment.
Under federal law, employers must provide a person with reasonable accommodations that allow them to practice their religious tenants without experiencing discrimination in the workplace. Some examples of religious accommodations include shift switching, flexible work hours, job reassignments and other modifications to workplace policy. However, a reasonable accommodation cannot cause an undue hardship on the employer. Undue hardships are those that may be expensive, affect safety, decrease efficiency, infringe on other employees’ rights or require other workers to do more than their fair share of dangerous or burdensome assignments.
Were you discriminated against at work?
Being discriminated or harassed at work based on your religious beliefs is dehumanizing, frustrating and embarrassing. You can take action if you experience such treatment at work. You may be able to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address the situation. You may even be able to pursue a lawsuit depending on the circumstances. What is important is that you stand up for your rights.