Protecting your rights in the workplace.

What Is Religious Discrimination in California?

Religious discrimination is a form of bias that occurs when individuals are treated unfairly or unfavorably in the workplace because of their religious beliefs or practices. In California, as in many other jurisdictions, laws exist to protect employees from religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Legal Protections Against Religious Discrimination in California

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination and harassment based on religion in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, and compensation. Under FEHA, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or applicants because of their religious beliefs, practices, or observances.

Additionally, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides similar protections against religious discrimination in the workplace. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees and prohibits discrimination based on religion, as well as accommodations for religious practices unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.

Signs of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Denial of Religious Accommodations

Employers may refuse to accommodate an employee’s religious practices, such as time off for religious holidays, prayer breaks, or modifications to dress code policies.

Harassment Based on Religion

Employees may experience harassment or derogatory comments related to their religious beliefs or practices. This can include offensive jokes, slurs, or unwelcome religious proselytizing in the workplace.

Unequal Treatment

Employees may be subjected to disparate treatment or differential treatment because of their religion, such as being passed over for promotions, receiving unfavorable job assignments, or being excluded from company activities.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment may be created when pervasive or severe religious harassment or discrimination interferes with an employee’s ability to perform their job duties or creates an intimidating or offensive work environment.

What To Do If You Experience Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

If you believe you have experienced religious discrimination in the workplace, there are steps you can take to address the issue:

Document Incidents

Keep a record of any instances of religious discrimination or harassment, including dates, times, witnesses, and details of the incidents.

Report the Behavior

Follow your company’s policies and procedures for reporting discrimination or harassment to HR, management, or another designated authority within the organization.

Seek Legal Advice

Consider consulting a trusted Los Angeles religious discrimination lawyer to understand your rights and options for recourse.

File a Complaint

If internal measures do not resolve the issue, you may file a complaint with the Civil Rights Department (CRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The CRD or EEOC will decide whether to investigate. They will attempt to resolve the situation with your employer and may also decide to take legal action. Alternatively, they may issue you a right to sue. Your attorney can then help you file and pursue a lawsuit.

Religious Discrimination FAQs

Q: What are examples of religious discrimination?

A: Examples of religious discrimination may include:

  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practices, such as time off for religious holidays or prayer breaks.
  • Making derogatory comments or jokes about an employee’s religion.
  • Treating employees differently or unfavorably because of their religious beliefs.
  • Creating a hostile work environment through pervasive or severe religious harassment.

Q: Can my employer force me to participate in religious activities or events?

A: No, employers cannot force employees to participate in religious activities or events if it goes against their beliefs. Employers must respect employees’ rights to religious freedom and cannot impose their religious beliefs on their employees.

Q: Can I be retaliated against for reporting religious discrimination?

A: No, retaliation against employees for reporting religious discrimination is illegal. Employers cannot take adverse actions, such as firing or demoting employees, in retaliation for exercising their rights to report discrimination.

Q: How can I promote religious inclusion and diversity in the workplace?

A: You can promote religious inclusion and diversity in the workplace by:

  • Educating yourself and others about different religions and beliefs.
  • Encouraging open dialogue and respectful communication about religious diversity.
  • Advocating for policies and initiatives that support religious accommodation and inclusivity.
  • Challenging stereotypes and biases related to religion in the workplace.