What is Religious Discrimination?
Religious discrimination is as old as religion itself. Whether an employer is discriminating against an employee for practicing their faith or for refusing to practice their boss’s faith, the law is there to protect them. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, and agnostic employees from religious discrimination. “The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion.” EEOC Guidance on Religious Discrimination.
Religious discrimination can take many forms and the law provides claims for harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or denial of accommodations. Comments attacking employees based on their religion can be extremely hurtful and disruptive.
The law requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.
Too often courts have watered down these protections by exempting businesses from doing so if providing an accommodation would cause more than a “minimal burden” on the operations of the employer’s business. This pro-employer standard appears poised to change dramatically with the new makeup of the Supreme Court and the right case will help re-establish the protections Congress intended to give employees.
Employees Must File Claims Within 180 Days
Title VII requires employees to bring claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory act.
Unfortunately, the EEOC is far more likely to harm your case than to help your cause. Therefore, we strongly recommend you reach out for a consult before going to the EEOC if you believe you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. No matter what, though, you must comply with the 180-day deadline. Therefore, you should file with the EEOC immediately if it has been five months since the adverse employment action occurred.
North Carolina state law also prohibits employers from firing you because of your religion.
Reach out for a consultation today.