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Can an employer prevent you from praying?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2022 | Employment Law

California is a diverse state and one that generally prides itself on being welcoming to people of all backgrounds. The majority of workplaces also do their best to try and assert the same standards. Sadly, there are occasions where workplaces fail in this regard.

Religion is an important part of life for many people across the country. In fact, it is often much more than this, it is a way of life for millions of individuals. What’s also a routine part of life is employment. People need to be able to pay their bills and live as comfortable a life as possible, and the income from a job facilitates this.

So, how do employment and religion mix? Is it legal to pray in the workplace? Is it lawful for an employer to prevent this?

What the law says

Both state and federal law protects the freedom of all individuals to practice the religion of their choice, and this includes the workplace, at least to an extent. In California, the law on religion in the workplace is largely set out under the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA). Employers are legally obliged to make reasonable accommodations for religious workers. For instance, schedules should accommodate those who have to pray at certain times of the day. Or, dress codes should be tolerant of anyone who observes religion by wearing certain garments. However, there are some exceptions.

When religious observance may be restricted

Employers may be permitted to restrict religious observance if it causes them undue hardship. The test for undue hardship is again set out under the WRFA. If the nature and financial cost of accommodations would be too excessive, then an employer may not have to make them. Disruption to the workforce and overall productivity are also considered.

You are entitled to practice the religion of your choosing and this should not adversely impact your employment rights. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, make sure you look into your legal options.


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