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 to worship at all, and your right to religious freedom is protected by the Constitution. The right is also protected in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against people on the basis of 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 what 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. If, for example, your holy days happen to fall on the days when some great deal or transaction is going through, you cannot claim a religious exemption to get out of the work that is required of you. The same goes for your clothing. If you are in a customer-facing job in the hospitality industry, you cannot compel the company to allow you to wear a full face-covering garment by invoking freedom of religious expression.

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.

If, for example, you work with a colleague who identifies as a Christian and quotes Bible verses to you and tells you constantly that you must be saved by Jesus Christ or you are doomed to eternal torment, then you are in a hostile work environment and should seek relief from that person. Or, someone with the same kind of evangelical zeal may come at you with a softer approach. They may harangue you with invites to their church or leave notes filled with Bible verses on your desk. These same people may 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.

Proselytizing at work can be considered illegal harassment. If a coworker invites you to go to church with them outside of work, this is perfectly normal. 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. You will at this point 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. If you are 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 in to work, do your job, get along with your colleagues, and go home. You believe you were hired for your talent, skill, and expertise and you want to be judged by them. The last thing you want is to stir up trouble at work over religion.

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 judgement 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 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 you are being proselytized by a coworker, it may be on purpose. The harassment may be meant to pressure you into attending church services or doing something else that is 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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