Have you been passed over for a promotion due to your faith?

Let us say you have been working as a receptionist for a well-established marketing communications firm here in Rhode Island. You qualify for a promotion to office manager, but a less-experienced woman got the job. You believe you were passed over because of your religion. What should you do? 

Why this happened

Your supervisor recommended you for the office manager position, but the vice president in charge of hiring chose the woman who has only been with the company for a few months. She is less qualified than you are, but the simple fact is that she does not wear a headscarf and you do, in keeping with your faith. A coworker who is also a friend of yours overheard the vice president make a disparaging remark to another executive about your religion, so it is possible your faith had some role in the decision.

Discrimination and the law

Discrimination against religious beliefs in any aspect of employment is unlawful. This means the vice president in your company cannot discriminate in hiring, firing, job assignments, promotions, training, pay or any other matter related to employees or potential employees. In fact, the law requires your employer to “reasonably accommodate” religious beliefs as long as doing so would not result in “undue hardship” on company operations.

What you can do

You can take this matter to human resources, but remember that the vice president oversees HR, so that could work against you. Instead, you may want to explore your legal options. You can help your cause by writing down events in a notebook as they develop, not on your computer where others could have access to your notes. Write down what your coworker told you about the discriminatory remark she overheard. Keep any emails that could have bearing on the subject of your anticipated promotion, including your supervisor’s recommendation. Also, keep copies of your performance reviews. Remember that if religious discrimination played a role in your being overlooked for promotion, you have the right to file an official complaint.

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