According to the U.S. Department of Labor, treating an employee differently because of their religion is illegal. Additionally, employers must provide accommodations that allow their employees to practice their beliefs in the workplace.
The laws apply to all employees regardless of the belief system they identify with, including atheism and both theistic and no-theistic religions.
What is religious discrimination?
There are many different religions, so an employer may have several employees with unique beliefs. Employers can not treat any employee differently based on that religion. Discriminatory acts might include:
- Requiring a specific employee to work in an area separate from other workers because of their religious affiliation
- Harassing an employee with ongoing negative remarks regarding religion
- Demanding the employee participate in religious ceremonies other than their own
- Preventing promotions based on religious practices
What religious accommodations must employers offer?
As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must make reasonable accommodations for an individual’s religious preferences. Some changes employees may request are:
- Modifying work uniforms to meet religious dress codes
- Not working on specific days of the week
- Taking breaks to accommodate religious requirements
- Allowing facial hair or certain hairstyles
Can an employer deny accommodations?
Employees may request specific religious accommodations as needed. Employers must make an effort to provide for that employee. If an employer refuses to offer a necessary modification, the employee might consider it discrimination. The burden of proof is on the employer to show undue hardship in meeting the accommodation.
Employees have the right to work without experiencing religious discrimination. Understanding their entitlement to religious freedom may encourage communication with their employers and promote a healthy work environment.