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What does federal law have to say concerning religious discrimination?

When a person interviews for a job or meets with a manager to discuss the possibility of a promotion, the last thing on their mind is likely their individual religious beliefs or practices. That's because they assume, correctly, that this is a highly personal issue that has no bearing on the employment-related matter at hand.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that a person's individual religious beliefs or practices are frequently considered in these types of matters -- much to the detriment of both applicants and employees alike.

As discouraging as this is, the good news is that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly forbids religious discrimination in the workplace, meaning those who believe that they have been victimized by such practices do have options for seeking justice.

What constitutes religious discrimination?

Under federal law, religious discrimination is defined as subjecting a person to otherwise unfavorable treatment based on their religious beliefs. It also includes treating a person differently owing to their connection with a certain religious group/organization, or their association with or marriage to a person of a particular faith.

Who is covered by the prohibition against religious discrimination in the workplace?

As you might imagine, those individuals who belong to organized religions like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism are protected. However, the law also protects those with "sincerely held" moral, ethical or religious beliefs.

To what extent does the prohibition against religious discrimination in the workplace protect employees?

The prohibition against religious discrimination extends to essentially every facet of employment from hiring, training, benefits and pay to assignments, promotions, layoffs and terminations.

We will continue this discussion in our next post.

If you believe that an employer has discriminated against you on the basis of your religion, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options.

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