What is Religious Discrimination?

Religious discrimination is discrimination for an individual’s chosen faith, creed, or sincere belief which may or may not be relating to an established faith system. Some examples of religious discrimination may be comments regarding an individual’s chosen creed. It may relate to specific religious holidays which some individuals will take and may even result in termination or demotion after a person reveals their chosen faith. You may be subjected to religious discrimination if you’ve put your employer on notice that you would have to take off for a specific holiday and that employer either chooses not to hire you or decides to demote you, transfer you, or even terminate you for requesting that kind of a religious accommodation.

Employment Attorneys Representing Workers in New York City

Workplace religious discrimination occurs when you are treated differently on the job due to your chosen faith, creed, or sincere belief, which may or may not be related to an established religion. Discrimination might include being terminated or demoted after revealing your chosen faith, not being given reasonable accommodations connected to specific religious holidays, or receiving harassing comments related to your faith. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced New York City religious discrimination attorneys may be able to advise you and represent you in connection with this type of claim. Watch the video on this page to learn more about how we can help you.

What is Religious Discrimination?

Religious discrimination occurs if an employer makes an employment decision based on your religion, creed, or sincere belief, rather than your job performance or qualifications. For example, if you receive excellent job evaluations until your supervisor finds out you are Muslim, and then you are terminated, this is religious discrimination. Similarly, it would be religious discrimination if you applied for a job, but after telling you that you are the most qualified candidate, the interviewer made negative remarks about Jehovah's Witnesses while knowing that you belong to that religion, and you do not get the job.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, companies with 15 or more employees may not discriminate on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief. However, state and local laws protect employees of smaller companies—those with four or more employees—from religious discrimination.

You are entitled to ask for and receive reasonable accommodations for your religious beliefs and practices in the workplace. However, if providing the accommodation would cause your employer an undue hardship, the employer may deny the request. Reasonable accommodations may include changes to dress code or the workspace, grooming, excused absences from employment programs, or changes to your work schedule so that you can practice your religion. For example, if the company policy is that nobody may wear anything on their heads, but you wear a hijab as part of your religious beliefs, you may ask the company to accommodate you and allow you to wear your hijab to work.

The court would look at multiple factors to determine whether an employer was justified in claiming that providing a religious accommodation that you requested was an undue hardship. When an accommodation imposes more than a small cost, the employer is not required to provide it. For example, paying overtime to a coworker once in order to accommodate an employee who needs to take a day off due to the Zoroastrian New Year probably will not be considered an undue hardship.

However, if an employee needs to take multiple days off for many religious holidays, necessitating regular payment of overtime, this may be an undue hardship. In addition to cost, courts will also consider whether the accommodation infringes on other workers' rights, creates safety problems, negatively affects business operations, or reduces efficiency.

Religious discrimination also may occur if you ask for a reasonable accommodation or use an accommodation that has been provided, and as a result, you are demoted, transferred, laid off, or fired.

Retain an Aggressive Religious Discrimination Lawyer in New York City

Employees should be evaluated on their job performance, rather than their personal beliefs. Religious discrimination is unlawful. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City attorneys have substantial experience advising and representing workers in these matters, including cases involving reasonable accommodations. Contact us online or call us at (866) 229-9441 to set up an appointment with a discrimination or harassment lawyer. We fight wrongful conduct in the workplace in Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties.