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Examples of religious discrimination at work

The freedom to practice any religion is a constitutional right in the U.S. It’s a right that workplaces must take seriously. Employees or prospective employees cannot be discriminated against based on their religion.

Unfortunately, religious discrimination does happen in the workplace. Here’s what it can look like.

Direct discrimination

Religious discrimination can be blatant and direct. An example would be an employee being fired purely because of their religion. Another example would be a worker not being given the same access to promotion opportunities as their colleagues of different religious backgrounds.

It’s important to note that religious discrimination extends to job applicants. It is unlawful for any company to refuse to hire someone purely based on their religion. There are exceptions for religious organizations and schools.

Indirect discrimination

Religious discrimination can also be indirect. Indirect religious discrimination means that a company implements policies that apply to everyone but adversely impact people of a certain religious group more than others. For instance, an employer may require all employees to work on a certain day that coincides with a day of religious observance. A company may implement a policy that restricts work breaks, meaning that religious observers are unable to pray.

One of the most common forms of indirect religious discrimination in recent years has been related to dress codes. For instance, a ban on all headwear within the workplace is actually only likely to adversely affect those who wear religious headwear.

If you feel like you have been discriminated against because of your religion, then you do have options. There is legal information and help that can explain your rights in more detail.

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