EEOC Amplifies Its Focus On Religious Discrimination

In a recent move the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that it will increase its focus on Religious Discrimination.

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Our employment lawyers in Los Angeles know that workers are experiencing religious based discrimination on a daily basis.

California workers are likely familiar with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) signs and posters that are displayed in most workplaces. The EEOC protects California workers from discrimination of all sorts, including discrimination based on religion. A recent report indicates that in 2013 alone, more than 3,700 religious discrimination claims were made to the EEOC.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) addresses the traditional clothing and grooming considerations that employers with 15 or more employees must make toward individuals whose religious practices require them to dress or groom in a particular manner. The exception to these considerations is if the clothing or grooming practices create an “undue hardship” on the business.

The most common clothing and grooming practices found in California workplaces are the Muslim hijab, Sikh turban, Christian cross, and the Jewish Star of David. Certain religions also practice particular hair lengths and shaving practices.

Accommodating for religious practices includes the employer allowing the employee to modify a uniform to conform to their religious practice, or allowing a woman to wear a long skirt instead of pants.

In general, the best practice for employers and employees is to be forthcoming with any religious practices, required uniforms, etc. that could be the basis of an issue before employment begins.

Employees should disclose any needed accommodations before beginning employment, and should be sure to help the employer understand the reason why the accommodation is necessary. Employers who feel that the requested accommodation is not truly based on religious beliefs may have the right to question the employee but this is a complex area.

With that having been said, it is important for California employees who have religious practices that require accommodation to understand their rights and responsibilities. Employees should also be aware that segregation in the workplace due to their religious practice is a violation of Title VII.

This includes an employer who removes an individual from working with customers due to a complaint by a customer or co-worker related to their religious beliefs or practices.

Religious practices that may require a reasonable accommodation from an employer are best handled with honesty if both parties can be reasonable. Unfortunately, even when all parties are honest, there are still events that can lead to discriminatory actions. California employees should know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and applicable state and federal laws that protect them from discrimination.

Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.

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