RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION. Religious discrimination is treating individuals differently in their employment because of their religion, their religious beliefs and practices, or their request for accommodation, change in a workplace rule, or policy of their religious beliefs and practices. It also includes treating individuals differently in their employment because of their lack of religious belief or practice.
TRADITIONAL AND ALTERNATIVE BELIEFS PROTECTED. Federal law and the Texas Labor Code protect not only people who belong to traditional organized religions such as the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other faiths, but extends to all people who have “sincerely held” religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. If you have been rejected for employment, fired, harassed or otherwise harmed in your employment because of your religion, religious beliefs, practices, or requests for an accommodation of your religious beliefs and practices, you may have suffered illegal religious discrimination.
“Religion” includes spiritual or religious beliefs that are not associated with an organized church or other group, and can include atheist or agnostic beliefs.
Generally speaking, most employers may not treat employees differently because of their religion. Employers may not refuse to hire people because of their religious beliefs or treat them differently than other employees with respect to assignments, discipline, promotions, pay, or benefits because of their religion.
Some employees experiencing religious discrimination may also experience other forms of illegal discrimination, such as national origin discrimination, immigration or citizenship status discrimination, or race discrimination. Continuous forms of religious discrimination seen in the workplace are employment decisions or harassment based on religious preference, as well as, failing to reasonably accommodate religious practices or an employee’s religious observances.
Employers may also have a duty to stop serious religious harassment in the workplace. If an employer has been made aware that its employees are suffering unwanted statements or conduct in the workplace based on their religion, the employer may be required to intervene if the harassment is “severe or pervasive.”
EEOC recognized examples include: changing a work schedule, making exceptions to a dress code, or allowing private religious expressions in one’s work area. Whether an accommodation is reasonable depends on the specific circumstances. Accommodations that are too difficult or burdensome for an employer are not required, and changes that would infringe on other employees’ rights are normally not considered reasonable.
There are exceptions to these laws for some religious organizations, which are allowed to give some preferences to members of their own religion in hiring. Employees who have a religious function (such as ministers) generally may not bring claims for religious discrimination against their employers. The Law Office of Nicole Conger, PLLC can help analyze the strengths and hurdles in your case.