Discrimination against someone in the workplace for their religious beliefs or practices is illegal. The way you worship and how you practice your beliefs are not relevant to your ability to complete a task or your qualifications to handle a job.
NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC is a professional legal team dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, seeking justice for those who have been victims of religious discrimination, and holding discriminatory companies accountable.
Have you been a victim of religious discrimination or harassment? If you have been unfairly terminated or overlooked in the hiring or promotion process, you have legal options. Our experienced employment lawyers can help you get justice. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation about your case.
What is Workplace Religious Discrimination?
Religious discrimination in the workplace involves denying someone equal treatment based on their religion. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ensures that members of certain classes are protected from unfair treatment in the workplace. One of these classes is religion.
The EEOC enforces federal laws that forbid discriminatory practices and penalizes companies that use religion as a basis for hiring, firing, or assigning job duties and granting promotions.
In addition, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for the practice of someone’s religion, such as allowing them to wear religious head coverings or scheduling their breaks to accommodate prayer times.
Religious discrimination can affect anyone, including atheists and nonreligious people. Everyone is entitled to work in an environment where their religious beliefs — or lack of belief — are respected and not mocked. And every employee has the right to be evaluated based on their merits, qualifications, and contributions.
Common examples of religious discrimination at work include:
- Basing hiring decisions on religion
- Refusing to interview someone with a last name common in certain religious communities
- Denying someone a promotion because of their religion
- Making disparaging remarks about certain religions or the way someone practices their religion
- Consistently approving time off requests to celebrate Christian holidays but not Jewish holidays
- Requiring a nonbeliever to participate in morning prayer sessions
Religious discrimination can take many forms, and people of every religion can be victims of religious harassment or prejudice.
Religious Discrimination Is Not Always Overt
Religious discrimination is often more subtle now than it was, say, 100 years ago, although it is still prevalent. It can be difficult to recognize, but some patterns are fairly common.
For example, suppose that your religious beliefs prevent you from working on Sundays or Friday nights, but you are consistently scheduled for these shifts. Employers must make reasonable accommodations for religious employees. If other employees are available and willing to work those shifts, you may be a victim of religious discrimination.
Or perhaps you are not placed on customer-facing teams, even though you are qualified and able to, because you wear a hijab or niqab. You may be a victim of discrimination in this case.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination also extends to students, who have the same protections against unfair treatment in the classroom. Unless the school is explicitly a religious institution, it is forbidden to deny admission to qualified students because of their religion.
Retaliation for Filing a Complaint of Religious Discrimination Is Illegal in New Jersey
The first step in correcting religious discrimination in New Jersey is to follow the procedures laid out by your company. This usually involves filing a complaint with your manager or human resources department.
After you file an official complaint, you are protected from being retaliated against by your manager or other supervisors.
Some typical forms of workplace retaliation are:
- Assigning you menial tasks or removing you from important projects
- Transferring you to another position with a pay cut
- Not addressing negative remarks from coworkers, such as calling you a tattletale or overly sensitive
- Passing you over for promotion even though you are qualified
- Scheduling you to work on your holy days when not necessary for the business
Retaliation also includes firing you on spurious or unfounded grounds.
Filing a Complaint of Religious Discrimination in New Jersey
If your workplace does not address the issues in your complaint and you are still being harassed or discriminated against, your next step is to file a complaint with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division on Civil Rights or the EEOC. You may also file a complaint with both agencies.
However, the process can be complicated; consulting with a lawyer who focuses on the intricacies of employment law can help you take the correct steps.
After the agency investigates your case, they may determine that your complaint is valid. In that case, they will grant you and your employment attorney permission to file a civil suit against the company for damages.
Have you been discriminated against because of your religion?
If you have been discriminated against at work or harassed because of your religion, we can help. NJ Employment Lawyers of New Jersey is a legal firm focused on helping wronged employees find justice. Our employment law attorneys can file a civil suit on your behalf; contact us today for a free case review.