What is religious discrimination?

Religious discrimination is prohibited in the workplace which is why it is essential for workers to be familiar with their protections against religious discrimination in both the hiring process and in the workplace. Religious discrimination refers to treating an applicant or employee in an unfavorable manner because of the applicant or employee's religious beliefs.

Protections from religious discrimination in the workplace apply to organized and traditional religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism and deeply held religious, ethical or moral beliefs that the worker holds as well. In the workplace, the law prohibits religious discrimination related to any aspect of employment which includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, training, fringe benefits, layoffs and any other term or condition of employment.

In addition to religious discrimination in the workplace being forbidden, harassment based on religious belief is also prohibited in the workplace. Harassment can include offensive comments that are made concerning a worker's religious beliefs or practices. Harassment is considered illegal when it is so persistent that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse employment decision. The harasser can be a supervisor, supervisor in another area, co-worker or non-employee such as a client or customer.

Workers are protected from religious discrimination in the workplace and should expect a safe workplace free of both discrimination and harassment. When workers experience religious harassment, either at work or during the hiring process, it is important for them to know how to come forward to access legal resources available to protect them.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Religious Discrimination," Accessed Nov. 6, 2017

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