A Guide to Religious Freedom in the Workplace
In America, you are free to practice the religion of your choice or not to practice at all. Your religious beliefs are your private affair. They are not subject to regulation by anyone. You are even free to adhere to your convictions in the workplace.
If you have experienced discrimination based on religious belief in Los Angeles, then you should fight back. The best way to do so is to hire a Los Angeles workplace lawyer. Do not give your employer ammunition against you by lashing out at them. A calm, reasoned, and deliberative response is your best option. A Los Angeles workplace harassment and discrimination lawyer can help you with this.
When You Just Want to Do Your Job
Under both federal and state law, employees are entitled to reasonable accommodation in the workplace for their religious beliefs and practices. The only time an employer can curb or restrict such practices is if it causes undue hardship for them. Employers also have the right to forbid any employee from proselytizing in the workplace.
If you are like most people, you are willing to recognize such limits and can reconcile your religious commitments with the requirements of your job. This is especially important if you are a member of a religious minority group. In this instance, your holy days may fall on regular workdays in California. Your religion may also require you to abide by certain dress and grooming standards. In most jobs, none of this should be a problem for your employer. For example, you should be able to grow a beard, schedule weekly meetings around your sabbath, cover your arms and legs, and find a private space for prayer.
If your employer goes out of their way to make it difficult to do any of these things, it may owe to their prejudice against your religious beliefs. This could put you in a difficult position. You were hired because you have the skill, experience, and competence to do the job. You just want to get on with your work. You don’t want to make a fuss over a private matter like your religion. But if you do not take a stand at the first indication of religious discrimination, you will likely be squeezed even further later on. The bigoted person may also take the same action against others.
You may be able to deal with the situation informally. Although you should never feel pressured to handle such a complex matter on your own, if you believe it can be resolved through a quiet word or the intervention of a sympathetic superior, then you should pursue that route. It may save you and your colleagues a great deal of stress and acrimony. If you prefer not to handle the situation on your own, then you should consult with a religious discrimination attorney.
When Your Faith is Questioned
Practicing your faith in the workplace is not always so straightforward. When you were hired, there may have been nothing about your grooming or clothing that could be associated with a particular religion. However, if your company puts out a new policy that is in direct contravention of our faith, difficulties may emerge.
If, for example, you work in the hospitality industry and the staff is instructed to wear short-sleeve shirts, you may object to wearing such clothes on religious grounds. Your manager may doubt your claim. They may say that you are only making this claim to avoid following the rules.
The best way to prevent such a questioning of your faith is to be clear about your religious-based objection from the start. If you give them a non-religious objection the first time and then come back with a religious-based objection the second time, they will have reasonable grounds to doubt your claim.
Even if your beliefs are sincerely held, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may take the side of your employer if:
- You act in a way that is inconsistent with your belief system
- The timing of your request is questionable
The best way to resolve the matter is to raise your religious objection the moment you learn about the new policy. You should have a quiet word with your manager and explain to them that you prefer not to discuss your religious beliefs, which is why you have not been forthcoming about them. You can then explain the dress requirements of your faith and even bring literature and other evidence that supports your request. If your manager is left unpersuaded, then you may need to make a formal complaint against them. If the company fails to back you, then you should hire a religious discrimination law firm in Los Angeles.
An Unfortunate Reality
Unfortunately, too many Americans interpret religious freedom as the right to harass and intimidate people who do not share their faith. It is illegal for an employer to demote, demean, or otherwise disadvantage or embarrass you because your faith differs from theirs. Hostility to your faith should not be tolerated in the workplace. Nor should you be kept from formal or informal social events or other opportunities to network and be mentored because of your religious faith.
If any of this has occurred in your place of work, then you should hire a Los Angeles religious discrimination lawyer. An attorney for religious discrimination attorney will help you get the justice and compensation you deserve after such an event.
If your employer is willing to acknowledge their wrongdoing and make substantive changes to their policy, then you may not need to file a lawsuit. If your employer refuses to change, then your lawyer for victims of discrimination can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Your case need not go to trial. Employers who actively engage in religious discrimination or allow it to happen leave plenty of witnesses to their illegality. Your lawyer will be able to track down others who have suffered and get them to make statements. A large accumulation of evidence can prompt your employer to settle the case rather than risk a jury verdict.