The United States was founded on many concepts. One of these is freedom of religion. When it comes to the workplace, there are specific laws that cover how employers must handle religious matters with employees. In a nutshell, employers are not allowed to discriminate against workers because of their religious beliefs. Discrimination, however, can come in many forms.
What constitutes religious discrimination at work?
Employees cannot be discriminated against simply because of their religious preferences. Forms of discrimination include:
- Denying fringe benefits
- Denying rightful promotions or job assignments
- Layoffs or firing
Whether by a supervisor or co-worker, harassment in the workplace due to religious beliefs is also a form of discrimination. Such harassment can include but is not limited to teasing, making rude comments or gestures via in-person, chat, messaging or video conferencing.
In the event harassment occurs, employers should have rules and procedures in place that allow employees to file a complaint without fear of retribution. Workers who have been subjected to religious discrimination have the right to take action to rectify the situation. Some employers have rules and procedures in place that allow employees to file complaints or grievances if they are being subjected to discrimination or harassment. However, other employers do not.
Employees who feel scared to speak up at work or feel as though they have no recourse options or that their concerns are begin ignored have options. Engaging with an employment law attorney who can offer advocacy and options under the law is a good first step. However, strict time limits apply to these cases. Employees should take action sooner than later.