Reasonable Accommodation for Religious Beliefs | Mann & Elias
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Reasonable Accommodation for Religious Beliefs


It is against federal and state laws for an employer to single employees out and discriminate against them because of their religious beliefs. They cannot deny you employment, promotion, or opportunities for advancement because of your faith or lack thereof. The law also requires companies to provide reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs and practices upon request. They must consider these matters when making work-related decisions.

If you have difficulty staying productive because your employer refused to accommodate your religious beliefs, it may lead to your failure. It can stall a great promotion, lead to termination, or demotions. If you find yourself in this situation, you may have been discriminated against. If you have experienced discrimination for your religious belief, a Los Angeles workplace attorney can help you hold your employer accountable. It is the first step toward righting this wrong.

You Have a Right to Accommodation

Protection against religious discrimination comes down to behavior. Your religion may require you to perform specific actions. Observing the holidays of your faith, wearing particular garb with associated hairstyles, professing your faith to others—these are all behaviors practiced by workers with sincerely held beliefs. And your employer must make reasonable accommodation for them. You should contact a lawyer for religious discrimination if you need further clarification.

Here are some specific examples of the kinds of accommodations you should expect from your employer:

  1. Scheduling flexibility
    It may, for example, be vital for your team to meet once a week on Friday. However, if your sabbath is next Friday, then your employer should schedule the call at a time that allows you to perform the rituals required for that day.
  2. Exceptions to grooming requirements
    If you work at a high-end professional firm, it may have strict grooming standards for men. The rule may call for short hair and a clean-shaven face. But if your religion requires you to grow a beard and prohibits hair cutting for the month, then your employer must make an exception.
  3. Private space
    If your religion requires you to perform prayers several times a day, your employer should provide space if it is possible. This will depend on the type of office or facility you work in.
  4. Excused absence
    If you work in a company where most people hold a certain religious view, it is permissible for them to include religious expression in meetings. If you do not share their faith, then you should be excused from such meetings.
  5. Sharing your faith
    If your religion requires you to share your faith with others, you should be allowed to do so. Again, this must be done within reason. There is nothing wrong with proselytizing to a co-worker who you have gotten to know. But if the same person indicates that they are not open to what you have to say, you should make no further attempt.

When Expression Becomes Harassment

Most people with firmly held religious beliefs understand the boundaries of expressing it. They realize that there is a time and place for everything. In the workplace where a range of people from various backgrounds gather to do their jobs, religious proselytizing can make things uncomfortable for everyone.

However, some insist on infusing religious expression into their language when communicating with others. They also believe they are obligated to share their faith with others. Employers who try to prevent workers from exercising their religion can be accused of religious discrimination. But employees who are subjected to such talk can feel harassed.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers must allow their employees to express their religious beliefs at work unless it creates an environment of intimidation and hostility. Some people can take their attempt to save souls—as they see it—too far. If it is found that an employee’s proselytizing makes it impossible for you or the team you are part of to function, then your employer need not accommodate it.

Courts have ruled that an accommodation cannot be supported if it significantly harms the morale of other employees or leads to inefficiency, or infringes the rights of other workers. You should contact a workplace lawyer for victims of discrimination if you have further questions about this.

Atheists Are Included

Religious accommodation also protects atheists. There are a growing number of companies that put faith at the center of their brand. Although an employer has every right to celebrate their faith, they cannot make hiring, firing, and promotion decisions based on it. When employers run a conventional enterprise, they must hire based on experience, expertise, and knowledge. If you are an atheist working in such an organization, your employer must accommodate your right to be absent from any company-sponsored religious activities. They cannot pressure you into attending religious services or converting to their religion. If you are being given a hard time in your workplace because of your atheism, you should speak to an employment attorney in Los Angeles.

Only as a Last Resort

Most religious accommodation issues can be worked out through mediation. But bigotry and prejudice too often make this impossible. If you believe you are not getting accommodated because of your beliefs, you should lodge a formal complaint. If your employer does not act on your complaint, you will need to get into it legally.

If you have experienced discrimination based on your religious belief, you should hire a religious discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles. An attorney should only be hired as a last resort. The religious discrimination attorney you hire will build a case against your employer. Your workers’ rights attorney will use emails, voice mail, text messages, and the testimony of other employees to hold your employer accountable for their discrimination.


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