Protecting your rights in the workplace.

Common Types of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace and How to Address Them

Religious discrimination in the workplace is a serious issue that can significantly impact an employee’s career and well-being. There are various forms of religious discrimination that can occur and here is guidance on how to handle such situations effectively.

Common Types of Religious Discrimination


Religious harassment involves unwelcome comments or actions related to an employee’s religion. This can include derogatory remarks, jokes, or offensive symbols targeting an individual’s religious beliefs. Harassment becomes unlawful when it creates a hostile work environment or when enduring such behavior becomes a condition of continued employment.

Failure to Accommodate Religious Practices

Employers are required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices unless it causes undue hardship on the operation of the business. Common accommodations include flexible scheduling for religious holidays, dress code exceptions (such as allowing religious garments), and providing a private space for prayer. Failure to provide such accommodations without a valid reason constitutes discrimination.

Disparate Treatment

Disparate treatment occurs when an employee is treated less favorably than others because of their religion. This can manifest in hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, and other employment decisions. For example, if an employee is overlooked for a promotion because their religious practices are seen as inconvenient, this is a form of disparate treatment.


Segregation involves physically or socially isolating an employee because of their religion. This can include assigning them to less desirable work locations, excluding them from meetings or work-related social events, or limiting their interaction with clients and coworkers.


Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for reporting religious discrimination or for participating in an investigation or lawsuit. This can include demotion, termination, reduced job responsibilities, or other punitive measures.

Addressing Religious Discrimination

If you experience religious discrimination at work, first follow your employer’s internal complaint procedures. This typically involves reporting the issue to a supervisor, HR department, or designated company representative. Documenting incidents of discrimination and the steps you have taken to report them is also crucial.

Seek Legal Advice

Consult a trusted and experienced Los Angeles religious discrimination lawyer. They can provide advice on your rights, help you understand the strength of your case, and guide you through the process of filing a complaint or lawsuit if necessary.

File a Complaint with EEOC or State Agency

If internal resolution efforts fail, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD). Both agencies investigate discrimination claims and can mediate settlements between employees and employers. Filing a complaint is also a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.

Mediation and Settlement

Many discrimination cases are resolved through mediation or settlement. Mediation involves a neutral third party helping both sides reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Settlements can provide compensation for damages and may include policy changes to prevent future discrimination.

Filing a Lawsuit

If mediation or settlement efforts are unsuccessful, or if the EEOC or CRD issues a “Right to Sue” letter, you can file a lawsuit in federal or state court. Legal remedies can include reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and changes to company policies to prevent future discrimination.