The United States Constitution gives each of us an absolute right to hold our own opinions and beliefs. Additionally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits private employers of 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees and applicants because of their religion (or absence of a religious belief) with regard to any aspect of employment such as hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits or other terms and conditions of employment. Employers are also prohibited from segregating employees based on religion, including the reassignment of employees to other jobs due to actual or perceived customer preferences.
A religious accommodation is any adjustment to the work environment that will allow an employee or applicant to practice his or her religion. Under the Title VII, employers are required to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of employees or applicants, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal cost or burden to the employer’s business operation.
Whether a particular accommodation poses an undue hardship on the employer's business operation will depend on the circumstances. If an accommodation is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, affects the rights of other employees or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work, the accommodation may be an undue hardship on the employer.
When an employee notifies the employer of an accommodation request, the employer and the employee should discuss the request. If the employer cannot provide the employee’s preferred accommodation, the employer should determine if an alternative accommodation is available and explain why the preferred accommodation was not provided.
Examples of Religious Accommodation May Include the Following:
- Adjustment to a work schedule to allow employees to practice their religion
- Leave from work for religious observances
- Dress or grooming practices
- Observance of religious prohibitions against wearing certain garments
- Voluntary shift substitutions or swaps
- Job reassignments
- Lateral transfers
- Exceptions to dress or grooming rules
- Modifications to workplace policies or practices
Religious discrimination occurs when an individual is treated unfavorably because of a sincerely held religious, ethical or moral belief. This law protects not only those who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, but also others who have newer or less common religious beliefs, and atheists. Religious discrimination may include treating an employee differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion. Also, it is unlawful to force an employee to participate or not participate in a religious activity as a condition of employment.
Examples of Religious Discrimination:
- Unfavorable treatment because of one’s beliefs
- Harassment because of one’s religion
- Offensive remarks regarding one’s religious practices, creating a hostile work environment
- Segregating an employee because of that employee’s religious beliefs
- Failing to accommodate religious practices in dressing and grooming
- Dismissing employees because of their religion
- Deciding not to hire applicants due to their religion
- Refusing a promotion due to an employee’s religion
- Paying employees less because of their religion
- Refusing to recruit, hire or promote individuals because they practice a religion
- Imposing different work requirements on employees because of their religion
- Refusing to hire applicants because they don’t share the employer’s religious beliefs
- Excluding applicants from hire because they may request a reasonable accommodation
- Excluding applicants because they have a name associated with a particular religion
Religious harassment is a form of discrimination. Harassment of employees, such as offensive remarks about a person's religious beliefs or practices, is unlawful if it is frequent or severe enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment or it results in an adverse employment decision (such as a firing or demotion). The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
Title VII also prohibits employers from punishing employees for opposing a discriminatory employment practice or for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding or Title VII litigation.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, private sector employees must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 calendar days of a discriminatory action. You will forfeit important legal rights if you do not file a timely charge with the EEOC. If you’ve already missed a deadline, call to discuss your options.
If you’ve been subjected to religious discrimination, contact Rich Daugherty. He will fight to protect your rights.
Whether your employment has been wrongfully terminated, you’re in fear of losing your job unlawfully, or you’re stuck in an untenable situation, contact Rich. He will be by your side every step of the way to reach a fair resolution of your case. In addition to litigating cases, Rich has negotiated confidential severance agreements favorable to his clients.
Rich offers a one-on-one relationship with his clients. When you contact his office, you will speak directly with him.
You can arrange for an initial phone conference at no charge.
Rich represents clients from across North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Wilmington, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and more. He is available to meet with prospective clients outside of Chapel Hill when circumstances permit. Evening appointments are also available.