When it comes to California employment law, there are many forms of discrimination in the workplace, from ageism to gender discrimination. Another important form of employment discrimination is religious discrimination.
According to the EEOC, religious discrimination entails treating employees differently or less favorably because they hold a particular religious belief or non-belief. Religious discrimination in the workplace is an issue that affects many employees and employers across the country, whether the victim identifies with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any subgroup of such practices.
While any employee who practices a traditional religion is susceptible to religious discrimination in the workplace, it’s worth noting that even workers who may identify as spiritual instead of religious—such as those who hold sincere ethical or moral beliefs—can face religious discrimination at work as well, regardless of any “label” they choose to identify with.
What Constitutes Religious Discrimination in the Workplace?
So, what counts as religious discrimination in California workplaces? Generally, religious discrimination involves any adverse employment decision or hostile work environment that arises due to an employee's religious beliefs or practices.
Common examples include refusing to hire, failing to promote, demoting, terminating, or harassing an employee, or failing to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee's religious practices, such as dress codes, grooming policies, religious holidays, or prayer breaks.
Religious Discrimination Under California Law
Religious discrimination is illegal in California under state and federal law, including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This law prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment.
- California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – The FEHA prohibits employers from discriminating based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees' religious beliefs and observances unless doing so would cause undue hardship.
7 Examples of Religious Discrimination at Work
Religious discrimination can take various forms in California workplaces, such as:
- Forced participation – This entails requiring an employee to participate in a religious activity as a condition of employment.
- Unequal treatment – This involves employers who treat employees differently based on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), such as by excluding them from company events or intentionally disregarding their input during meetings.
- Segregation – This occurs when an employer segregates employees based on their religion, such as requiring Jewish employees to work in the same vicinity.
- Denying reasonable accommodations under the ADA – This involves refusing to accommodate an employee's religious practices, such as prayer breaks or religious dress, without a valid business reason.
- Retaliation – Retaliation is any adverse action against an employee because they reported religious discrimination or otherwise complained about unethical employer behavior.
- Harassment – This happens when employers subject employees to offensive comments or behaviors due to religious beliefs or practices, such as ridiculing a Muslim employee for praying five times each day.
- Promotion decisions – This entails an employer who bases promotion decisions on an employee’s acceptance or non-acceptance of certain religious beliefs, such as rejecting the best-suited candidate on the grounds of their religious preference instead of professional qualifications.
Hiring Experienced Representation After Religious Discrimination
If you think you’re experiencing religious discrimination at work, it’s imperative to consult with a trusted employment lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and safeguard your economic security.
Regardless of how big or powerful they appear, no California company is entitled to abuse or harass workers on the grounds of religion or other protected classes under federal law, including ethnicity, race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender, sex, or pregnancy. Such immoral behaviors can threaten workers’ financial, physical, and mental health, often leading to acute emotional distress.
That’s why it’s essential for wronged employees to work with a dedicated employment law attorney. If an employer or company has violated your employee rights, a skilled legal advocate can help protect your employee rights by:
- Reviewing the legal options available to you – An experienced representative can explain what rights are available to you under the law and use their in-depth legal knowledge to recommend the most appropriate recourse for your situation.
- Fortifying your claims with relevant evidence – Wronged employees are obliged to prove their claims in court, and sufficient evidence is required to do this successfully. A seasoned employment lawyer can strengthen your claims with relevant proof, such as important documentation, witness testimonies, digital correspondence (such as texts or emails), company records, or security cam footage.
- Negotiating effectively on your behalf – More often than not, employers have access to funds and resources that victimized employees do not, automatically putting wronged workers at a disadvantage in court. A knowledgeable attorney can prohibit unethical employers from taking advantage of employees by offering lowball settlements or silencing them with threats, harassment, or intimidation.
25+ Years Representing Wronged Employees in California
Our accomplished Monterey County employment lawyer has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of hardworking Californians in a wide range of employment lawsuits, from wrongful termination to implied contract disputes. Whether you’re fighting back against a racist employer or demanding reimbursement for company expenses, turn to a firm with decades of employment law experience.
If your economic security hangs in the balance of an immoral employer, Attorney Bill Marder has the comprehensive legal knowledge to advocate effectively on your behalf. When you partner with Polaris Law Group, LLP, our compassionate firm will fight tirelessly to restore your peace of mind and financial security in the workplace. Don’t wait to demand the compensation and justice you rightfully deserve after experiencing employment discrimination.
Exercising your employee rights is crucial to preserve your financial security in California. Call (888) 796-4010 to schedule a free consultation with our passionate Monterey County employment lawyer.