Though freedom of religion is one of the most important rights that Americans enjoy, the role of religion in a corporate work environment can be complicated. Even if a company is privately held, it is still bound by the restrictions that are set forth in the Constitution. California workers may be interested in the fact that employment discrimination based upon religious beliefs is illegal and could be grounds for legal action.
There are many issues regarding religion that could create friction in a corporate environment. Besides fundamental religious beliefs, workers could be required by their faiths to follow specific diets, dress in a certain manner, pray at certain times, fast and/or observe certain religious holidays. These practices have the potential to create conflict among workers, and they could possibly result in harassment and hostile work environments.
There are many forms of discrimination that a worker might encounter. Disparate Treatment Discrimination refers to an employer’s policy to hire or promote (or not hire or promote) an employee based upon an employee’s religious beliefs. Alternatively, Disparate Impact Discrimination can be subtler, such as forbidding an employee from wearing a certain type of clothing. This could cause a conflict with an employee’s religious requirements. Finally, Hostile Work Environment Discrimination occurs when an employer allows or encourages an uncomfortable or hostile environment for employees of a particular faith.
Issues based upon religion have caused employment discrimination disputes throughout the country and in almost every industry. Those facing religious discrimination in California could be best served by seeking the advice of an experienced employment law attorney. Attorneys who practice in this area of law can assist in guiding their clients in the best legal recourse in order to ensure their rights are protected.
Source: FindLaw, “Religion in the Workplace“, Accessed on Sept. 9, 2016