Freedom of religion is a cornerstone of modern American culture. The concept is so important that it is codified as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Many of the early settlers to the United States and also numerous modern-day immigrants came to the United States to flee religious persecution in their country of origin. While respect for the freedom of religion is a common value shared by most people in the country, not everyone respects religions outside of their own.
Even though there are laws in place to protect religious expression and faith in the workplace, some companies discriminate against employees because of what they believe.
Workers who experience such challenges (such as the two discussed below) in the workplace might have grounds to take action due to the religious discrimination they’ve endured.
1. A refusal to accommodate their observances
People of different religious backgrounds may need different workplace accommodations. Some people simply need to consistently have a specific day away from work so that they can attend religious services. Others will need to have specific holy days off of work each year. Allowing for prayer during work in some cases may also be needed.
Sadly, some companies simply refuse to cooperate with workers who need time off for other reasonable support to observe their religion. Only in scenarios where accommodating a worker’s faith would cause hardship for the company can an organization justify refusing to let someone have Sunday off for service or other basic religious accommodations.
2. A culture hostile toward those of another faith
Some businesses start as family-owned companies and therefore tend to hire people at first from within a specific social circle. Everyone may belong to the same religion until the company reaches a certain growth point.
Those that do not belong to the same religion as older employees and owners may find themselves in a hostile work environment where they don’t receive the same treatment and consideration as those that belong to the same faith. Both those who forego religious observances altogether and those that belong to other faiths may find that the members of the dominant religion in their workplace create a hostile work environment that excludes them or denies them opportunities.
Many organizations will not change their unethical behaviors until employees take action and demand better treatment. Pursuing claims of religious discrimination can end certain kinds of misconduct and help change the culture at a company in some cases, in addition to compensating those who have been affected.