Like most countries, the United States has given its people the freedom to be religious or irreligious. A section of the constitution states: “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance….”
It is thus unacceptable to experience prejudice because of your religious beliefs in the workplace. You can file a workplace discrimination claim if you have been a victim. Employment lawyers are specialized professionals that can help you bring your claim forward.
Let’s find out first what constitutes religious discrimination in the workplace.
The constitution of Australia states that it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against or treat any employee differently based on their religion. What does this mean for an employee? It means an applicant or employee cannot be retaliated against, refused promotion or wage increase, harassed, or denied reasonable accommodations because of their religious beliefs.
Some of these reasonable accommodations include:
- Allowing you to take the day off to observe a religious holiday.
- Allowing certain exceptions to your dress code and grooming.
- Allowing and permitting specific shift substitutions.
Harassment can also come from fellow employees in the following forms.
- Offensive remarks about your beliefs or practices
- Humiliation based on the choice of dressing
The law does not prohibit innocent teasing, jokes, or isolated offhand comments that aren’t very serious. Harassment will be illegal when it becomes too frequent or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
Religious discrimination in the workplace can be psychologically draining on the receiving party. It can lead to constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal is when an employee is coerced into resigning because of an employer’s conduct.
It is also crucial to note that an employer is not obligated to respect an employee’s religious convictions if:
- It directly or indirectly presents a burden or will affect the business operations in a significant way.
- The employer would suffer undue hardship as a result
- It compromises the safety of the workplace
- It weakens s the efficiency of the workforce
- It infringes on the right of other employees
- It requires other employees to do more than is required of them
- It is too costly
If you have reasons to believe that your employer has harassed you, denied you a reasonable accommodation, or retaliated against you, then you can file for a workplace discrimination claim.
It is important to note that your employer must be aware of your religious beliefs beforehand to make the necessary adjustments in the workplace.
If an employee needs to dress in a certain way to work or takes a day off due to a religious holiday, it should also be communicated to the employer. Doing this would give the employer enough room to make the appropriate substitution to keep the business operations at an optimal level.
If after following these due steps and an employee is still facing harassment in the workplace, then it is time to call on professional employment lawyers who understand all of the applicable state and federal laws.