Today’s workplace is characterized by workers with a diverse range of religious affiliations, as well as workers with no faith at all. As such, it comes as no surprise that the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s religion.
Basically, discrimination based on religion occurs when faith becomes the basis for treating an employee in an unfair manner. The unfair treatment can target their belief, grooming, religious practices or outfit. An employee can also face religious discrimination at work by virtue of their association (usually through marriage) with an individual of a certain religion.
So who is protected from religious discrimination at work?
Well, the answer to this question is straightforward: Everyone. The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects employees from discrimination based on their religious beliefs.
Direct discrimination based on the employee’s religion
Direct religious discrimination happens when an employer, or potential employer, treats one or a group of employees differently based on their religion. Examples of direct religious discrimination would include:
- Informing a candidate that they may not be hired thanks to their religion
- Citing religion as the basis for dismissing an employee
- Bypassing an employee for promotion due to their religion
- Citing religion as the basis for paying an employee less than others
Indirect discrimination based on the employee’s religion
Indirect religious discrimination happens when the employer comes up with rules or policies that are applicable to everyone but unfairly infringe on certain employees’ rights to worship or practice their faith. Examples of indirect religious discrimination may include the following:
- Coming up with a dress code that requires employees to dress in a manner that violates their faith
- Setting work schedules that deliberately denies certain employees time off to observe their faith
- Banning employees from wearing certain religious outfits or symbols like the Burqa from work
Religious discrimination in the workplace can be intentional or non-intentional. Find out how you can protect your rights if you feel you are being discriminated against at work based on your faith.