What to Know

Religious Discrimination

Religious Discrimination. Los Angeles, California.

Discrimination Legal Disputes

If you experience religious discrimination in the workplace or at school, call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

We have helped clients to solve their religious discrimination claims in Los Angeles and other California cities.

We do not charge for consultations.

What is considered religious discrimination?

In California, religious discrimination is an unfavorable treatment based on a person's religious beliefs. This also applies to the religious affiliation of a spouse or someone else with whom you associate. Religion includes common organized religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other sincerely held spiritual, moral, or ethical beliefs. Both federal and California state laws prohibit religious discrimination under certain circumstances.

Religious discrimination in the workplace

Under federal and California state laws, employers may not base employment decisions on an applicant or employee’s religious beliefs. This includes all stages of the employment relationship:

Hiring

Promotions

Compensation and benefits

Employer policies

Transfers

Termination

Religious discrimination laws

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is the federal law prohibiting religious discrimination, and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is California’s similar state-level law. These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), respectively.

Religious discrimination examples

There are many different forms of religious discrimination that can take place at work. Some examples include:

• Inquiring about an applicant’s religion during the hiring process

• Refusing to hire someone because they are wearing a hijab

• Firing someone who asked for certain accommodations due to their religion

• Harassing an employee because of their religious beliefs

• Firing someone who complains of religious discrimination or harassment

There are many possible circumstances under which religious discrimination can arise, and it can be difficult for employees to know what type of conduct violates their rights. It is essential to have an employment attorney evaluate your situation and your legal options. Feel free to call us at 888-762-0297 with any questions you may have.

What forms can religious discrimination take?

One employee can experience a very different type of religious discrimination than another. Some forms of discrimination of this kind might take include:

• Refusing to hire

• Refusing a promotion or pay increase

• Not providing certain benefits

• Disparate impact policies

• Disparate treatment

• Segregation based on religion

Harassment

Retaliation

• Refusal of reasonable accommodations

Wrongful termination

No matter what form religious discrimination takes, it is still just as unlawful as other forms. If it sounds familiar, call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

How to prevent religious discrimination

Employers can take steps to prevent religious discrimination in many ways.

First, all management and staff should undergo anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training that covers religious discrimination.

Second, companies should also enact policies that promote equal treatment and deter discrimination and harassment. These policies should address how to properly respond to requests for accommodations based on religious beliefs.

Third, if an employee brings a complaint or a manager notices possible unlawful discrimination or harassment, the employer should investigate the situation immediately and work to stop the conduct.

California labor law on religious time off

Many employees wish to have time off for religious holidays and similar religion-oriented events. California labor laws do not specifically require religious time off. However, anti-discrimination laws give employees the right to seek reasonable accommodations for their religious practices, and time off for religious purposes can qualify as reasonable accommodations. If your employer cannot prove that time off would cause undue hardship, and if you properly request time off as a religious accommodation, your employer should allow the time off.

Religious time off from work

There are many reasons why you might want to adjust your usual work schedule for religious practice. This can include breaks during certain prayer times, not working on observed holidays or days of rest, and more. It is important that you properly request this time off as part of religious accommodations to ensure you receive the time off. If your employer refuses to allow any time off, and the time off work does not cause undue hardship to the company, you likely have a claim for religious discrimination.

Can you refuse to work on Sundays?

If not working on Sundays is in accordance with your religious practices and beliefs, you can request an accommodation that does not require you to work on Sundays. If you simply refuse to work on Sundays without a connection to your religious beliefs, your employer might lawfully fire you.

Do I have to prove my religion to my employer?

An employer should grant an accommodation for sincerely-held religious beliefs. There is no requirement that an employee must prove their religion to an employer before receiving accommodations.

Title VII Exceptions

Religious organizations and corporations can be exempt from Title VII, which means that they may discriminate in hiring and employment based on religion. For example, a Catholic school could decline to hire someone because they practice Buddhism, or a synagogue might refuse to hire an applicant who practices Islam. Some companies claim to be religious organizations when they do not qualify as such, and these employers should be held accountable for religious discrimination.

Associational Discrimination

Discrimination does not have to stem from the employee’s religion, but it might be due to the religion of a spouse or other associated individual or group. If you experience harassment when coworkers learn your wife wears a hijab, it can be considered associational discrimination.

Workplace religious freedom act

On the federal level, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act is a repeatedly proposed law that Congress has yet to pass. The law aims to strengthen religious discrimination protections by making it more difficult for employers to avoid reasonable accommodations. However, California passed its own Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (“WRFA”) that strengthens the right to accommodations and prohibits discrimination due to religious grooming or dress.

What are my religious rights?

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the right to freely practice a religion or choose not to practice any religion. You should not be penalized for your religious beliefs by the federal or state government.

Religious rights at work

Freedom of religion extends to the workplace as well, even if your religion is different from your employer’s. You further have the right to be free from workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, as well as the right to get reasonable accommodations from your employer to prevent conflicts between your religious practice and your employment.

Religious accommodation request form

If you want reasonable accommodation for your religious beliefs, you must properly request one. Your employer should have a specific form you should submit, and DFEH provides a sample form for California employers.

For more information

If you believe you lost a job, demoted, or were paid a lower rate because of religious beliefs, the religious discrimination lawyer can help. Call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your situation. We will evaluate your claim, determine the best course of action, and calculate the damages. We don't charge for consultations.

We take all claims on a contingency fee basis. If there is no recovery, then there are no fees. We also advance all costs and are only reimbursed after a successful recovery for you.

We can help clients resolve their religious discrimination disputes across California, not only in Los Angeles.

Last updated on July 25, 2021.

Related Articles

• Discrimination Lawsuits in Los Angeles and California

Additional Resources

• Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

• California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

• Religious Discrimination and Workplace Religious Freedom Act