Some individual characteristics are very visible to the average person, such as skin color or gender. However, other traits are not as evident, such as religion. This often makes spotting religious discrimination in the workplace much more difficult. If you believe that your religion is being used to discriminate against you, it is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact the law firm of Hitchcock & Potts for assistance.
Not Only Religious People Are Protected
Religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can take many forms. But generally, any kind of adverse hiring or employment action based on religious belief (or perceived religious belief) is prohibited. This means that both religious people and non-religious people can be discriminated against on this basis—someone’s lack of religious belief can be weaponized just as easily as another person’s belief in the perceived “wrong” religion.
In addition, there are two important characteristics that you should be aware of in terms of bringing a case. The first is that Title VII does not only protect those who are members of “established” religions. Any person with a “sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral” belief system is covered under the relevant law. To restrict these protections to only “established” religions would be violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, given that the government cannot favor any one religion over another.
Religious Accommodation Is Required
Both federal and state law holds that employers must “reasonably accommodate” employees’ religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would pose more than a “minimal burden” on the employer. This is similar to cases involving the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and its “undue burden” threshold for employers to be able to decline religious accommodation. Every different case will have a different definition for “minimal burden.” For example, what may be a very minimal burden for a company with 5,000 employees is often an enormous burden for a business with 10 workers.
There are valid reasons for an employer to deny accommodations, but they must be clearly enumerated, and not simply be that the employer is unwilling to accommodate. For example, safety considerations for other employees is a valid reason to decline the accommodation request. Requesting religious accommodation requires a balancing act, weighing not only the interests of the employer, but also those of the other employees. For an accommodation to be reasonable, no one’s interests can be unduly burdened.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
Now that you’re equipped for spotting religious discrimination in the workplace, if you believe that you have been discriminated against, contact an experienced employment discrimination attorney. The law firm of Hitchcock & Potts can determine whether or not you have enough to bring a case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience with these cases. Contact us today and we will work hard to help you with yours.