While all major religions have “the Golden Rule” as a cornerstone of their beliefs, some employers check the Golden Rule at the door and even discriminate against people because of their religion. Ironically, in doing so, they often ignore the own mandates of their own religion. Robb Bigelow is a Nashville religious discrimination lawyer who is here to help you.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as state and local laws, prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee because of that employee’s religion. Religion includes all aspects of religious observance, practice, and belief. Religious discrimination claims have increased in recent years; the EEOC estimates that charges of religious discrimination increased 41% from 1997 to 2015. If you believe you have been a victim of religious discrimination, it is important that you understand your rights. Hiring an experienced lawyer who understands religious discrimination can make all the difference.What Does the Law Prohibit?
Federal, state, and local laws forbid employers from discriminating based on religion with respect to all terms and conditions of their employment, which include hiring, compensation, promotion, treatment on the job, and termination. These laws also prevent treating an employee differently based on the employee’s association with a religious group, by marriage or otherwise, even if that employee is not a member of that religious group. Finally, these laws prevent employers from requiring an employee to take part in, or refrain from, any religious activities or beliefs. Similarly, an employer cannot make religious participation or belief a condition of employment. This general prohibition does not apply to certain religious employers, such as places of worship or religious-affiliated non-profit organization, which are permitted to employ their co-religionists.
- Disparate Treatment Discrimination
The law prohibits an employer from deliberately treating employees less favorably because of their religion.
Disparate treatment discrimination includes any sort of adverse employment action as well as harassment based on religion. Many Nashville religious discrimination lawyers are well-aware of some of the signs of religious harassment: offhand remarks about religious garb such as a yarmulke or head scarf, mocking an employee’s religious beliefs, or attempts to proselytize in the workplace. Similar to sexual harassment, religious harassment can be the basis for a legal claim if it is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the individual’s work environment. Let an experienced Nashville religious discrimination lawyer help you.
- Disparate Impact Discrimination
“Disparate Impact” discrimination occurs when an apparently objective policy has a disproportionately negative effect on members of one religion, and the employer is unable to show that the policy is job-related and justified by business necessity. Many workplace policies governing appearance standards or work schedules, while neutral, could be viewed as having a disparate impact on individuals whose religious practices do not conform to those rules, even though the rulesdo not single out a particular religious group. If you have been discriminated against in this manner, contact an experienced Nashville religious discrimination attorney to learn your rights.
- Reasonable Accommodation
Title VII, as well as many state and local laws, require employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations of their religious practices and beliefs. Typical accommodations include schedule changes or leave for religious holidays or other religious observances, or an exception to a company dress code policy for religious head coverings or other religious attire.
Employers are not required to provide an accommodation if it would cause “undue hardship.” Undue hardship is generally defined as involving minimal cost to the employer (unlike accommodations for disability), or causing negative effects on workplace safety or productivity.
Federal, state, and local laws also prohibitretaliation against employees who oppose religious discrimination (such as by filing internal complaints,filing a charge with theEqual Employment Opportunity Commission, etc.). Retaliation may take any of the forms above, as well as any action which could dissuade a reasonable employee from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.
Robb Bigelow is a Nashville religious discrimination lawyer who fights for the rights of people of all religions. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School and working for a federal judge for three years, Robb has over a decade of experience representing employees throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee who were discriminated against at their workplace.