Can your employer make you choose between worship and work?

Employers should treat workers with dignity regardless of their protected characteristics like race, medical conditions, sex and religion. Unfortunately, some employers are hostile toward people with specific characteristics.

Religious discrimination violates someone’s First Amendment rights and federal employment laws, but it remains a common and pernicious form of workplace discrimination. Companies should not consider someone’s religion when making decisions about who to hire, fire or promote.

They should also allow their workers to practice their religion. If you have religious obligations that require that you attend service once a week, can your employer force you to choose between a mandatory shift and your face?

Employers should make reasonable attempts to accommodate religion

Companies should do their best to allow workers access to their religious observances. The requests by the workers needing accommodations for their faith should be reasonable and should not impose an undue hardship on the company. That can make worship and time-off requests a bit of a legal gray area.

For example, allowing an employee to take a certain day off every week because that is the day that they attend services is relatively easy for a company with dozens of employees to do. However, sometimes, the accommodations that workers request would represent a hardship. If your place of employment only has four staff members and one of them is in the hospital, your boss may not have someone else to fill that role on the day you usually worship.

Exploring the behaviors that make you suspect religious discrimination can help you determine if you have cause for legal action or not.