Does My Coworker Have a Right to Proselytize at Work? | Mann & Elias
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Does My Coworker Have a Right to Proselytize at Work?


Every American has the right to worship as they please or not worship at all, and the Constitution protects your right to religious freedom. The right is also covered in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against people based on religion. In short, you cannot be denied employment, promotion, or other opportunities because of your faith.

If you believe you have experienced religious discrimination in Los Angeles, then you should hire a Los Angeles workplace lawyer. A Los Angeles employee rights lawyer can provide you with the insight and guidance you need to hold your employer accountable.

Your Employer Must Make Reasonable Accommodations

Tolerance of religious belief includes reasonable accommodations for you to practice your faith. Your employer should allow you to work around your sabbath and holy days. You should also be allowed space to pray if possible and to adhere to the dress and grooming standards dictated by your faith. The latter of these can be controversial.

However, it is illegal for a company to mandate shaved faces for men. Nor can an organization ban headscarves for women. If you have any questions about what is and is not acceptable, you should contact a workplace discrimination attorney.

Unreasonable Accommodation

Employers are permitted to ban practices or deny requests that put an undue burden on them.

Example 1: An employee realizes their holy day is taking place when a great deal or transaction is supposed to go through. They cannot claim a religious exemption to solely get out of the work required of them.

Example 2: This staff member is working a customer-facing job in the hospitality industry. She doesn’t really like the work attire and figures she can use her religion to modify it at work. This would be an unreasonable accommodation. She cannot compel the company to allow her to wear a full face-covering garment this way by invoking freedom of religious expression.

Example 3: You work with a colleague who identifies as a Christian, quotes Bible verses to you and tells you constantly that Jesus Christ must save you or you are doomed to eternal torment. Someone with the same kind of evangelical zeal may come at you with a softer approach.

They may try to intimidate you with invites to their church or leave notes filled with Bible verses on your desk. They hold spontaneous prayer sessions in a way that seems innocent and well-meaning but are not, as their purpose may be to generate interest in their faith and to bully those who do not share it into accepting it. That counts as a hostile work environment one should seek relief from.

Employers must also protect the rights of one employee from infringement by another. Proselytization, or the attempt to convert you to their religion, should be banned in your workplace. If it is not, then you may have to force your employer to address the issue.

Proselytizing at work can be considered illegal harassment. It’s perfectly normal if a coworker invites you to go to church with them outside of work. If you reject the invitation and they let it go at that, then there should be no grounds for complaint. There is only a problem if the person refuses to accept no for an answer and insists on pushing their religious views in the workplace. At this point, you will have to make a decisive response. You may be able to deal with the situation on your own, or you may have to hire a lawyer for religious discrimination at work.

Dealing with the Problems of Religion at Work

Most people prefer to keep their religious views private. Like most people, you have found a way to reconcile your sincerely held religious beliefs and your need and desire to work and make a living. You want to come to work, do your job, get along with your colleagues, and go home. Employers hired you for your talent, skill, and expertise. The last thing you want is to stir up trouble at work.

However, if you firmly believe that you have experienced discrimination for your religious belief, then you will have to make a move. You may be able to deal with the problem informally. You may be able to defuse the situation with a quiet word to the person who has shown bias toward you. Going to a superior who you believe to be an ally may also help resolve the situation.

This is, of course, a judgment call. It may be better for you to submit a complaint in line with company policy. Your organization must respond to such a complaint. If they do not, then you will need to escalate the matter to the legal realm. At this point, you will need to hire a religious discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles, build a case, and prepare to sue.

The Protection of Non-Belief

It must also be noted that federal law also protects non-believers. In fact, discrimination against atheists is on the rise. If you are not a religious person, you cannot be forced into religious functions and ceremonies sponsored by your employer. Nor should you be demoted or denied the opportunity for advancement because you are a non-believer.

You should also be wary of indirect ways to pressure you into conformity with a particular faith. If a coworker is proselytizing you, it may be on purpose. The harassment may be meant to pressure you into attending church services or doing something else against your conscience and convictions.

If the harassment is offensive, unwelcome, severe, and pervasive, it may be against the terms and conditions of your employment. If you complain formally to your employer that the conduct is offensive and disruptive, then they must take action to make it stop. If your employer fails to do so, then you can take legal action against them. You should not be pressured into quitting your job because of harassment that is intentionally ignored by your employer. If this sort of thing goes on at your job, a religious discrimination lawyer in LA can help you get justice.

The Bottom Line

You should be able to work free of religious discrimination and harassment. If this is not the case, then you should hire a lawyer for religious discrimination. A lawyer for victims of religious discrimination can help you get the justice you deserve.


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