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What is considered religious discrimination?

November 03, 2014

New Jersey residents may wonder what constitutes religious discrimination and what requirements employers must follow to safeguard employees from discrimination in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that an employer must accommodate the religious practices or beliefs of an employee in a reasonable manner as long as it doesn’t impact the business more than minimally.

Religious discrimination may be defined as treating an employee with different beliefs in a dissimilar manner from other employees. The law, according to EEOC, extends to protection of not only organized religions but also to any seriously held religious belief. The law also extends to providing accommodation for an employee to practice their religious belief, which may include alterations in the work environment, time for religious observances or other modifications, as long as it does not place undue burden on the employer or business. Accommodation for religiously held beliefs with regard to personal grooming or dress, including facial hair, head scarves or a religiously held belief against wearing pants, according to EEOC, requires that the employer be notified of this belief. The employer is compelled to comply with the request, unless it would cause undue hardship.

The law does not allow discrimination in employment, whether it pertains to hiring, pay, retaliatory termination, job assignments or other conditions. Any form of harassment due to an individual’s religion is also forbidden. Harassment not only includes the employer, supervisor and other employees but extends to clients and customers. The issue of religious discrimination may also extend to an employee’s association with a religion through marriage or affiliation.

Individuals who believes they are being subjected to religious discrimination may wish to consult with an attorney who has experience in employment law matters. Such counsel can analyze the specific circumstances and outline the available courses of action.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Religious Discrimination“, October 30, 2014

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