Religious Discrimination

The law forbids employers from discriminating against or harassing employees because of their religious beliefs. In addition to beliefs required by a religion, religious beliefs protected by law include those required by atheism and some other strongly and sincerely held beliefs.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Virginia Human Rights Act prohibit religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Religious discrimination can occur in many areas of employment, including hiring, firing, layoffs, compensation, benefits, job assignments, promotions, training, and other conditions of employment.

Religious harassment, such as a supervisor’s derogatory comments about one’s religion or religious practices, can also be illegal if the harassment is so frequent or severe that it creates an abusive work environment.

The law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices. These kinds of reasonable accommodations could include modifying work schedules, modifying job duties, allowing time off, and allowing religious garments or practices. However, an employer generally is not required to provide an accommodation if doing so would be overly difficult or costly for the employer.

Here are some examples of conduct that could be religious discrimination:

  • Your supervisor makes, or allows co-workers to make, frequent or severe derogatory comments directed at your religious beliefs, and your employer fails to take action despite your complaints;
  • Your religious practices require prayer at certain times of the day and your employer does not allow you short breaks for those prayers;
  • Your boss terminates you, explaining that he does not agree with your religious beliefs or practices,

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    If you believe you have suffered from religious discrimination at work, attorney Tim Coffield is ready to speak with you.