Federal law protects workers against religious discrimination

Your religious beliefs are a core part of your identity, and it may be very important to you to observe your religious practices daily. What happens if your employer discriminates against you due to your religious beliefs and practices? In such situations, you may have options available that will allow you to observe your religious practices without facing retaliation.

What is religious discrimination?

Religious discrimination in the workplace involves treating a worker differently based on the worker’s religion. For example, if an employer fires a worker, pays the worker less than similarly situated peers, looks a worker over for a promotion based solely on the worker’s religion or makes any other adverse employment decision based on a worker’s religion this may constitute discrimination. Federal law prohibits employers from engaging in religious discrimination.

Harassment based on religion is also prohibited under federal law. This may include making offensive remarks that are so frequent or severe that they result in a hostile workplace or an adverse employment decision. Your boss, co-workers or even customers can all commit illegal harassment.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Under federal law, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation to workers whose religious practices affect their job. For example, shift switches, flexible scheduling, allowing for religious dress in the workplace and minor changes to workplace policies are all examples of what, in some situations, could be considered a reasonable accommodation.

However, employers need not provide a reasonable accommodation if doing so would impose an undue hardship on their business operations. For example, if an accommodation is too costly for the business, makes the workplace unsafe or requires other workers to do more than their fair share of dangerous work, these accommodations may be considered an undue hardship that the employer need not grant.

Many Texans have strongly held religious beliefs. However, no one should face employment discrimination due to their religious beliefs and practices. Fortunately, the law provides protections and remedies should religious discrimination in the workplace occur.