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What is workplace religious harassment or discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects applicants and employees both from being discriminated against in the workplace for their religious beliefs or practices. The act covers individuals married to or in close affiliation with those who practice traditional, organized religions and who have other moral, ethical or religious beliefs as well.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws make it illegal for any employer to discriminate against an applicant or employee during the hiring, job assignment, training or firing process. Employers can't allow a worker's religion to affect how much pay or fringe benefits that they offer them either. They also can't allow it to affect whether they get a promotion.

The federal government defines religious discrimination or harassment pretty broadly as any type of offensive comments made about an individual's religious practices or beliefs. Only the most serious comments that make for an offensive or hostile workplace or that result in a worker's firing or demotion are considered to be discriminatory or harassing.

Harassment doesn't just have to come from a worker's superior either. Discriminatory acts may be made by a co-worker, a customer or another leader within their workplace. It's also unlawful for employers to segregate employees who practice certain grooming habits or wear certain religious clothing from others -- including the public.

Both California and federal laws require employers to reasonably accommodate their workers' religious practices and beliefs. They only have to do so if it will minimally affect the operations of their business, however. They may be expected to readily offer swaps in shifts, simple changes to workplace practices or policies, flexible scheduling and job reassignments to accommodate an employee's beliefs.

Employers are also expected to allow workers to wear religious dress and certain hairstyles required by their religion. They're also expected to allow employees to attend religious services unless they can prove that doing so would create an undue hardship on the company.

Discrimination or harassment in the workplace due to an employee's religious beliefs is illegal. A worker is expected to let their employer know of their request for reasonable accommodation for their religious practices or beliefs. Redondo Beach workers who've had their reasonable accommodation requests denied should consult with a workplace discrimination attorney.

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It can be hard to take the first steps in these cases when your livelihood is at stake, but know that you have rights available to you. Let us help you determine what you can do to bring an end to your employer's unlawful behavior.