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Recognizing religious discrimination in the workplace

You have a right to hold your own religious beliefs. As long as your boss employs a staff of at least 15 people, he or she cannot legally discriminate against you because of your beliefs. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents your employer from discriminating against you on account of your religious preferences. If he or she fails to adhere to it, your employer’s actions may constitute religious discrimination.

Just what sorts of protections does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extend to you in terms of your religious rights in the workplace?

Prohibited behaviors

Your employer, or your prospective employer, may not treat you any different than other applicants or employees because of your religious beliefs or practices. The same applies when making decisions surrounding hiring, firing, promotions, benefits or disciplinary measures. Similarly, your employer may not treat you any differently in these areas if you fail to hold any, or the same, religious beliefs as he or she does, as doing so may also constitute religious discrimination.

Your employer also has a legal obligation to accommodate your “sincerely held” religious beliefs or practices, provided doing so would not place more than a minimal strain on business operations. Your employer also may not harass you because of your own religious beliefs or lack thereof, nor can he or she do so because of the religious beliefs held by your family members or close associates.

Unlawful retaliation

You also have a legal right to engage in certain activities, such as filing complaints against your employer for religious discrimination or harassment. Your employer may not treat you unfavorably after you decide to do so, however, or this behavior may constitute retaliation.

If your employer discriminates against you based on your religious beliefs or practices, you do not have to simply accept the treatment. Similarly, if you do call attention to your mistreatment and your employer retaliates against you because of it, you may be able to pursue recourse.

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