Religious discrimination can take many forms. Some forms include failure to provide reasonable accommodation, harassment, disparate (i.e. different) treatment in the terms and conditions of employment, and the use of policies and practices that have a disparate impact on members of a particular religion. Stated generally, an employer cannot require an employee to violate his or her religious beliefs as a condition of employment unless accommodating the employee would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
The right to religious freedom protects all forms of sincerely held religious beliefs. This includes persons who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, as well as persons who belong to smaller or obscure religions, providing their religious beliefs are sincere. The law also protects an employee against conduct directed at his or her religious beliefs that results in a hostile work environment for the employee.
The law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the employer's business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion. Accommodations can take various forms, such as authorizing a modified schedule, allowing a change in shifts, reassigning one’s position, and allowing exceptions to or changing personnel rules or policies.
The Law Office of Joseph L. Sulman offers expert legal representation in the area of religious discrimination in the workplace. Please also visit the Boston Employment Discrimination Blog for updates about the latest developments in employment discrimination law.