Discrimination based on an employee’s actual or perceived religion, or lack of religion, is unlawful at the state and federal level under the Missouri Human Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, respectively. Religious discrimination is any negative treatment experienced by the employee because of his or her religious beliefs, and can be fostered by the employer or other employees. Because employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their workplace free from discrimination, employers can be held responsible for the discrimination perpetrated by the employee’s coworkers. Often, religious discrimination is in conjunction with ethnic or racial discrimination, though sometimes it is inflicted as religious discrimination alone. Regardless of the other types of discrimination that you may have experienced, it is important to contact an attorney about any harassment that you have experienced at work.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
Religious discrimination is designed to humiliate, intimidate, alienate, tease, mock, or otherwise harm the victim. The perpetrator may have personal motives for the religious bias, or the business as a whole may have ingrained discrimination that has fostered a hostile environment for years. Regardless of the reason that you have been picked out for your religious views, your employer has caused wrongdoing by either perpetuating discrimination or allowing it to happen. When the jokes, harassment, and damaging employment decisions have caused your work to suffer, a hostile work environment has been created. Examples of religious workplace discrimination include:
- Reserving managerial positions for non-Muslims;
- Refusing to provide equal pay to atheists;
- Sending out humiliating or derogatory emails about Jews;
- Harassing an employee who is believed to be Muslim, but is not actually Muslim;
- Making other negative employment decisions based on an employee’s religion or perceived religion.
Religious Beliefs and Reasonable Accommodations
According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), “religious beliefs” cover a broad range. Protections are not only granted to established religions like Christianity or Islam, but also to “religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or that seem illogical or unreasonable to others.” An employee’s religious beliefs may include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right or wrong, which can dictate whether or not the employee is okay with performing some of their job duties. It is the employer’s responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs, so long as those accommodations do not cause undue harm to the employer. An example of a reasonable accommodation would be to allow a Catholic employee to change her schedule to attend church on Good Friday, according to the EEOC.
Contact an Employment Attorney Who can Help You Seek Justice
No one deserves to be harassed or discriminated against because of his or her religion, and at work, it is unlawful to do so. We encourage you to talk with one of our experienced St. Louis hostile workplace attorneys as soon as you are able to. Contact the HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at your soonest convenience.