Employers must permit employees to engage in religious expression at work.
Religious discrimination in the workplace is a violation of California state and federal law. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or employee based on their religion. This includes refusing to hire, discriminating against a person in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges in employment, and termination.
Religious discrimination may occur against individuals from traditional and organized religious such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Religious protections also apply to individual religious beliefs, even if they are not part of a traditional or organized religion.
Federal and state laws prohibit employers from denying employment or employment benefits to an applicant or employee based on an individual's "religious creed," or lack of religious creed. FEHA defines "religious creed" broadly to include all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion. This includes refusing to accommodate an applicant or employee's sincerely held religious beliefs or practices. Employers are not required to provide an accommodation if the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, infringes upon workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, encroaches on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.
Below are some examples of religious accommodations sought in the workplace:
- An employee needs accommodation for a religious belief where working on his Sabbath is prohibited;
- A Catholic employee needs to re-schedule their workday so that they can attend mass on Good Friday;
- A Muslim employee needs a break schedule that will permit daily prayers at prescribed times;
Contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke if you believe you have been discriminated against based on your religion.