Under both federal and California law it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants based on their religion. These religious discriminaiton laws protect against treating a worker or an applicant differently because of their religious beliefs. The laws are broad enough to cover both traditional and organized religions (such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism) as well as others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. The laws also cover discrimination against a person because he or she is married to or associated with someone who belongs to a particular religion.
If you feel that your employer is discriminating against you based on your religion, you may wish to consult with an employment attorney regarding your rights.
California Religious Discrimination Laws
Under religious discrimination law in California, it is unlawful for an employer to fire or refuse to hire someone based on their religion. It is also unlawful to discriminate against an individual because of any potential conflict between a person’s religious beliefs and any employment requirement.
Additionally, employers must provide reasonable accommodation for an individual’s religious beliefs. This includes any observance of religious holy day (or Sabbath) and necessary time to travel both to and from a religious observance.
The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (also known as WRFA) expanded the protections of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) with respect to religion.
The WRFA specifies that the accommodation aspects of the religious discrimination laws extend to religious grooming and dressing practices. This includes facial hair, jewelry, and certain attire.
The WRFA provides that a “reasonable accommodation” requires that an employee be segregated from other workers or customers and general public is not sufficient.
The WRFA clarifies that the “undue hardship” defense for religious and disability accommodations requires a more stringent showing on the part of the employer than the federal standard.
Religious Discrimination under Federal Law
Federal law forbids religious discrimination in the workplace, including harassing a person because of their religion. Such harassment includes offensive remarks about a person’s religion, practices, or beliefs.
Federal law also makes it illegal to segregate workers based on their religion, including their clothing and grooming. For example, an employer cannot prevent a worker from contacting customers because of fear of how the customers will react to their religion.
Federal law also requires employers to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices unless the employer can prove that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship. Such accommodations may include scheduling changes and job reassignments.
Finally, an employer cannot force its employees either to participate in or not to participate in religious activities.
Religious Discrimination Lawyer in California
If you have a question about religious discrimination in the workplace, feel free to contact the attorneys at Hunter Pyle Law for a free and confidential intake process. Our experienced team of employment law attorneys may be able to assist you with your situation.