Fired for Observing a Religious Holiday?

September 9, 2017 Rager & Yoon Discrimination

If you have missed work to observe a religious holiday and your employer has been treating you differently since then, you may feel guilty and saddened. Perhaps you have been criticized for dressing differently and for having religious beliefs that require time off work. Religious discrimination in the workplace is illegal and employers should provide reasonable accommodations in such scenarios. You have the legal right to practice your religion and should not be let go due to the observance of a religious holiday. Consult with a Los Angeles religious discrimination attorney about your legal options.

Title VII

Whether you are part of organized religion such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam or even if your religious beliefs are different and unusual, Title VII protects you from religious discrimination in the workplace. Perhaps you are affiliated with a religious group that does not fully accept your beliefs. Even in such cases, the law also protects you. Religious beliefs include beliefs in the existence or nonexistence of God and moral beliefs about right or wrong. Some examples of religious discrimination under Title VII include:

  • When an employer refuses to hire people qualified for the job because of their religious beliefs.
  • When someone is denied a promotion at work because he or she doesn’t belong to the employer’s religion.
  • Firing someone who recently converted to a new faith.

What Constitutes A Religious Observance

Religious observances encompass a variety of practices such as praying, wearing religious symbols and clothes, eating certain foods, choosing not to be part of some specific activities, and any other form of religious expression. It all depends on your motivation and whether you engage in these activities for religious reasons or not.

Some Exceptions

  • Religious organizations are legally authorized to give employment preference to individuals of the same faith. This only applies to organizations with a religious mission or purpose. However, these organizations can’t discriminate against potential employees based on their age, color, race, disability, or any other protected characteristic.
  • Clergy members – Religious ministers generally can’t file a discrimination claim since they don’t have protection from these laws, except for harassment claims.

Religious Harassment

This is when an employee is required to leave his or her faith or adopt new beliefs as a condition for employment. When the work environment becomes hostile, the employee has the legal right to hold the employer liable. It’s important you take a closer look at your legal circumstances with the help of a Los Angeles religious discrimination attorney who can tell you whether or not you have a case. Even when your religious conduct or comments on a religious topic are unwelcome, it’s not unlawful unless you have created an unsafe environment. Also, having your coworker disagree with your religious views does not constitute harassment.

Is Your Employer Liable

Employers are not liable as long as they can prove that they did everything they could to correct the situation or if the employee didn’t allow the employer to correct the harassment or took the necessary steps in the employee’s manual. Employers are liable if they knew about the harassment and did nothing about it.

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