A number of recent employment lawsuits filed throughout the country have stemmed from alleged religious discrimination, ranging from failure to grant certain accommodations to outright harassment and hate crimes.
Our Costa Mesa religious discrimination attorneys know that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is very clear in stipulating that such actions are not to be tolerated under the law. The law refers to a prohibition on any discrimination with regard to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, lay-offs, promotions, benefits, training or any other condition of employment.
Harassment of a person based on his or her religion is also illegal, the same way sexual harassment is barred.
An employer can’t segregate someone at work on the basis of his or her religion or religious garb, even if company leaders fear a backlash from customers.
Additionally, employers must make “reasonable accommodations” with regard to one’s religious beliefs, practices or grooming. The only exception would be if doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations. An undue hardship is defined as one that would compromise workplace safety or decrease workplace efficiency, infringe upon the rights of other workers or require other workers to do more than their normal share of burdensome or potentially hazardous work.
One of the recent cases raised was a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a former employee at a cellular phone company out of Birmingham, Ala. In EEOC v. United Cellular, Inc., the allegation is that the company failed to make reasonable accommodations for an observant Seventh Day Adventist employee.
The worker’s religious beliefs require that he not work on the Sabbath, which is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Initially, the company accommodated this request. However, managers began inexplicably scheduling him for weekend shifts. When he informed them that he could not work, he was fired for not showing up to work.
The EEOC contends that such action violates federal civil rights law.
In another recent case, this one out of Arizona, a former schoolteacher is alleging that she was the target of several hate crimes due to her Jewish faith. Among the actions reportedly taken against her:
- A giant swastika painted on the door of her classroom;
- A swastika drawn on her vehicle;
- Her stolen photo ID card was returned to her with a swastika and a note indicating she should have been killed by Hitler.
The schoolteacher said the district never launched an investigation into the first incident. The principal refused to take a look at her vehicle after that incident, and even urged her not to file a police report. After the ID card incident, one student was punished, despite indications that several students were involved.
When she requested a transfer, the district denied it. She was subsequently given a poor review (despite excellent professional reviews prior). She said she was then forced to retire early.
Meanwhile in New York state, lawmakers are discussing the introduction of a measure that would protect workers who want to wear religious clothing at work. Those would include beards, turbans and hijabs donned for religious reasons.
That legislation comes on the heels of several high-profile workplace discrimination cases filed there.
Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with the help of the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Arizona Schoolteacher Sues School District Claiming Religious Discrimination, June 27, 2013, By Alana Abramson, ABC News
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