As an employee, you have the right under Federal law, to practice your religion. That means if you need to leave work early for religious reasons, or are unable to work on the weekend, your employer must make every effort to accommodate your schedule, unless it would pose an undue hardship ( under Federal law). Furthermore, employers cannot discriminate against one particular religious group while favoring another. There must be a sound business reason for business decisions—discriminatory practices violate both Federal and California Law. If you are facing religious discrimination in the workplace, speak with our Los Angeles religious discrimination lawyers at YMS.
Los Angeles Religious Discrimination Attorney Resources:
- What is Workplace Religious Discrimination
- Types of Religious Discrimination
- What is Workplace Religious Harassment
- The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act
- Los Angeles Religious Discrimination Lawyer FAQs
- Areas We Serve
- Client Testimonials
- Contact Our Los Angeles Religious Discrimination Lawyers Today
What is Workplace Religious Discrimination?
As it relates to employment, religious discrimination is when an employer treats an employee differently because of their religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation. In California, both state and federal laws prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace, including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: This federal law makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees based on their religion. Title VII covers all employers with at least 15 employees, including state and local governments.
- The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): This state law prohibits discrimination in employment based on an employee’s religion. The FEHA covers all employers in California with at least five employees.
- The California Constitution: The California Constitution makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees based on their religion.
- The California Labor Code: The California Labor Code prohibits discriminating against an employee based on their religious creed or beliefs.
Under these laws, discrimination on the basis of religion is prohibited in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, and working conditions. Additionally, employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, as long as it does not cause an undue hardship on the employer.
Types of Religious Discrimination
Religious discrimination can take many forms: members of one religion may be harassed because their faith is unpopular. Other examples of religious discrimination in the workplace include:
Harassment: This occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct because of their religion. Harassment can include derogatory comments, slurs, offensive jokes, or physical intimidation.
Failure to accommodate: Employers must make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, as long as the accommodation does not cause an undue hardship on the employer’s business. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
- Flexible scheduling
- Allowing time off for religious holidays; and
- Providing a space for prayer
Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who complain about religious discrimination or who participate in a religious discrimination investigation. Retaliation can take many forms, such as demotion, termination, or reassignment to a less desirable position.
Adverse employment actions: Employers are prohibited from taking adverse employment actions, such as termination or demotion, against employees because of their religion or religious practices.
Segregation: Employers are prohibited from segregating employees based on their religion. For example, an employer cannot assign an employee to a different work location or shift because of their religion.
Recruitment and hiring: Employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants based on their religion. This can include refusing to hire someone because of their religious dress, affiliation, or beliefs.
The harassment has to rise to the level of ‘severe and debilitating’. Moreover, if a supervisor notices discriminatory conduct and takes no action to stop it, the employer’s firm may be held liable for creating a hostile work environment.
What is Workplace Religious Harassment?
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits the harassment of individuals based on their religious beliefs. Harassment in this case is considered unlawful if it has been motivated by the individual’s religious affiliation, and has created an inhospitable work environment for the employee. Actions that are indicative of harassment include gestures, written comments, and verbal comments regarding an individual’s clothing, hair, practices, etc. Taunting, mocking, or even outright forcing someone to conceal their religious beliefs at work (e.g. making fun of/prohibiting pieces of clothing related to an employee’s religion) can be mentally draining on an employee. If this behavior leads to lost opportunities in the workforce due to reluctance to give up religious practices, it may even be considered a form of discrimination. Consider speaking with a Los Angeles religious harassment attorney from our firm about your unique situation.
Harassment of any kind is difficult to punish, as it is difficult to prove that the comments were made with malicious intent. However, by using statistics from within the workplace, it is possible to convince a judge that the comments were meant to be insulting. Even if comments are made sparingly, they can still have a damaging effect on employees of any religious affiliation.
In order for the plaintiff to have the strongest case possible, it is important that the employee has made it clear to the perpetrators that their comments and actions have been bothering them and that they wish it to stop. When possible, it is also important that the employee report this type of behavior to a supervisor; by law, employers are required to take all reasonable actions to prevent harassment in the workplace. If the harassment continues, the complainant will have a stronger case based on the fact that they discussed the harassment with the violator as well as the supervisor. It is important for an employee to know and understand their rights in the workplace, but it is equally important to know what is expected of employers.
The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act
In 2013, California expanded the protections against religious discrimination by enacting The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act. It gives employees the right to wear religious garments and follow grooming standards that accord with their religion. The employer must make these accommodations unless they can prove that they would pose a substantial hardship or expense. This raises the burden on employers under State law; the Federal law only imposes a showing that accommodation would be more than a ‘minimal’ expense.
Employees have the right to observe their religion and have their reasonable requests granted by the employer. That includes schedule adjustments, the wearing of clothing not worn by other employees. The dress code should be flexible enough to accommodate these differences as long as they do not interfere with safety. There must be a sound business reason, or the courts will find the practice violates public policy and constitutes religious discrimination.
If you believe you have experienced religious discrimination in the workplace, you may be entitled to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may also want to consult with an experienced Los Angeles religious discrimination lawyer who can help protect your rights and guide you through the legal process.
Los Angeles Religious Discrimination Lawyer FAQs
Can I File a Religious Discrimination Claim Even if I’ve Already Left The Company?
You can file a religious discrimination claim even if you’ve left the company in California. FEHA safeguards against workplace discrimination, including religious bias.
To start a claim, submit a complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). They’ll assess and mediate, or provide a right-to-sue notice for court action. You can sue for civil damages up to three years after the last incident.
Additionally, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces Title VII. This federal statute bars religious discrimination. You have up to 300 days after the last incident to file with the EEOC.
What Damages Can I Recover?
In cases of religious discrimination in Los Angeles, you can seek various damages, including:
- Compensatory damages: To cover lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress.
- Punitive damages: For severe discrimination, aiming to penalize the employer.
- Injunctive relief: Orders to stop discrimination, transfer positions, or terminate the discriminator.
- Restitution: Reimbursement for lost wages, medical costs, and counseling.
The actual damages depend on your case specifics. Additionally, federal law (Title VII) also offers similar avenues for damages in religious discrimination cases.
How Expensive is Hiring an Attorney?
Hiring an attorney is made more accessible through our contingency fee approach and free initial consultation. You won’t need to pay upfront fees; our fee is tied to the successful outcome of your case. Your well-being and priorities are our main focus, ensuring continuous support throughout the process. Your satisfaction and fair treatment are of utmost importance to us.
Areas We Serve
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Contact Our Los Angeles Religious Discrimination Lawyers Today
If you have experienced discrimination in Los Angeles because of your religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation, an experienced Los Angeles discrimination lawyer from our law firm can advocate for your rights in the workplace and obtain justice for you. Call Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani today at (310) 919-0091 or visit our contact page to arrange a free and confidential case evaluation.