Phillips & Associates

Philadelphia Religious Discrimination

Dedicated Employment Attorneys Fighting for Workers in Philadelphia

Religious beliefs are often deeply held principles. Employers are not permitted to discriminate against employees based on their religious beliefs and practices. In other words, they cannot treat a job applicant or employee differently because of their religion. Employers may need to reasonably accommodate employees so that they can practice their religion within the context of workplace rules. Your employer should not retaliate against you for complaining of religious harassment, discrimination, or because you requested a religious accommodation. If you believe that you have been affected by this type of misconduct, you should consult the Philadelphia religious discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

When Religious Discrimination and Harassment Happen

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit religious discrimination. Religious discrimination occurs when a job applicant or employee is treated less favorably due to his or her religious beliefs. You are protected not only when you belong to an organized religion like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity but also when you have any other sincerely held moral, ethical, or religious belief. Religious discrimination is forbidden in connection with hiring, firing, training, promotion, pay, and any other terms or conditions of employment.

Harassment based on the protected trait of religion is a type of religious discrimination. Religious harassment could include any offensive comments or jokes about someone's religious beliefs or practices. Isolated instances or minor offhand remarks are usually not actionable, but they could be if it were so severe or so frequent that it creates a hostile work environment or when it leads to an adverse employment decision, such as termination. A harasser could be a coworker, a supervisor, a client, or a customer.

Under Title VII, your employer cannot segregate employees based on their religion. For example, a religious discrimination attorney in Philadelphia might be able to bring a claim under Title VII if your employer assigned you to a “behind-the-scenes” position simply because you wear a hijab or a yarmulke.

Reasonable Accommodations for Religion

Additionally, under Title VII, your employer is required to reasonably accommodate your religious practices or beliefs unless if doing so would present an undue hardship on the employer's business operations. A reasonable accommodation is an alteration or adjustment to the job practices or work environment, such that an employee is able to practice their religion. Religious accommodations can include job reassignments, workplace modifications, and flexible scheduling. It could include changing grooming or dress codes for an employee based on his or her religion. For example, it could entail permitting a Jewish worker to wear a yarmulke or a Muslim worker to wear a hijab, even if the general company policy is to prohibit head coverings.

When an employee or job applicant needs a religious accommodation, he or she should notify the employer, and if the employer has a reasonable need for more information, the employer and employee must engage in a good-faith interactive process about the accommodation to determine whether one is available. The employer will not need to provide an accommodation if it would cause an undue hardship. Moreover, if it is the employer that has certain religious beliefs, it cannot make employment contingent on participating in a religious activity.

State and Local Laws on Religious Discrimination

Title VII only protects employees who work for companies with at least 15 employees. If your employer has between 4 and 14 employees, your Philadelphia religious discrimination attorney may be able to pursue damages under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. If your employer has 15 or more employees, you can file your discrimination claim with either the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), which enforces the state law, or the federal administrative body that interprets and enforces Title VII, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies have a work-sharing agreement, so you only need to indicate when you file with one of them that you want the claim cross-filed with the other agency too.

Similarly, the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance also prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace. It is enforced by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. As with the federal and state laws, the protection against religious discrimination under the city law includes a duty to give a reasonable accommodation for religious practices, except if this would create an undue hardship.

Hire a Religious Discrimination Lawyer in the Philadelphia Area

If you have faced the effects of religious discrimination or nationality discrimination, which are often overlapping issues, you should consult the employment litigators at Phillips & Associates. You can contact us at (215) 315-7694 or through our online form for a free consultation.

1635 Market St #1600A
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 315-7694
Fax: (212) 901-2107

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