Articles Tagged with religious discrimination

Both California and federal statutes protect employees and job applicants from religious discrimination. Employers are expected to provide reasonable accommodations for the religious beliefs and related practices of workers, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.religious discrimination lawyer

This may seem pretty straightforward, but as one recent case revealed, religious discrimination can take many different forms. In a federal employment discrimination lawsuit out of New York, an Buddhist airline pilot and recovering alcoholic sued his employer over medical clearance stipulation that required regular attendance at AA meetings.

AA stands for Alcoholics Anonymous, and it’s a widely-known 12-step alcohol addiction recovery process that’s been around for 80+ years. Those familiar with the tenets of AA will recall that one of those 12 steps involves faith in a higher power. Specifically, it involves the “belief that a higher power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” According to, while a significant part of the AA model draws from belief in a higher power, which higher power is not actually defined. Members are encouraged to “define a higher power based on their own personal understanding of the concept.” But as the plaintiff argued in this case, there’s little denying that the entire AA program has strong Christian overtones.

As our Los Angeles employment discrimination attorneys can explain, this aspect of the program can be problematic if/when employers mandate participation in the program as a condition of employment. Continue Reading ›

Recently, California employment law regulators filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Silicon Valley technology company Cisco, Inc., accusing the multinational firm of failing to intervene in harassment experienced by an Indian-American employee by two of his managers because he’s from a lower Indian caste than they are.Orange County employment discrimination lawyer

The Indian caste system is an ancient one that divide’s the country’s Hindus into four different social hierarchy groups. Privilege is bestowed on the higher castes while prejudice and repression is sanctioned against lower castes. India’s constitution banned caste-based discrimination in 1950, but much like the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, enforcement has been a process.

As our Orange County employment discrimination attorneys can explain, neither Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 nor the California Fair Housing and Employment Act bars discrimination on the basis of one’s caste. However, it does protect against discrimination on the basis of religion. What regulators in the case against Cisco are alleging is that the caste system stems from the Hindu faith, and thus this type of discrimination can be covered against discrimination on the basis of religion.

The court’s position on this is being closely watched by many of the hundreds of thousands of Indian immigrants living and working in California. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to consider how federal employment discrimination laws should be applied to church-run schools. Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer

Although our Los Angeles employment discrimination attorneys can for certain how the verdict will go, but we do know that in recent cases weighing the church-and-state relationship, the court has tended recently to side with religious groups.

The cases that the court heart last month deal with another aspect of this same divide: The role the government can or should play in the regulation of religious institutions, particularly if they are receiving taxpayer funding. Both cases were filed by teachers in California Catholic schools accused of employment discrimination. The schools insist that the teachers’ positions fall under the court-established “ministerial exception” to job discrimination. The court will be asked to consider just how broad that exception really is and how to balance the competing interests of shielding workers from discrimination and steering clear of meddling in the affairs of religious organizations. Continue Reading ›

How much leeway should religious schools have under the ministerial exception when it comes to hiring and firing teachers whose beliefs don’t align with a church’s? The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will review a federal appellate court’s ruling that would allow two California teachers’ claims of workplace discrimination to move forward. workplace discrimination

Front and center will likely be the landmark 2012 case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Employment Opportunity Division. The SCOTUS ruled that the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment prohibit legal claims against church bodies by their employees who carry out “essential religious functions.” The ministerial exception is supposed to protect church decisions about its leadership from improper governmental influence under the 1st Amendment.

Plaintiff alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act after taking leave to treat her narcolepsy. She was fired for reported insubordination. The line between “minister” and others wasn’t clearly defined, but plaintiff did teach religion and led religious ceremonies. Thus, the court held, the ministerial exemption applied. Continue Reading ›

The City of San Diego is on the hook for $565,000 to a former employee who was reportedly demoted in retaliation for complaining about a supervisor who pressured him to become more religious and chastised him for being being a “non-believer” in the Christian faith. religious discrimination

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, this same supervisor was the subject of complaints from other workers who were urged to attend church services, told non-believers would “go to hell” and expressed her view that those supporting same-sex marriages are not “children of God.”

The city’s lawyers agreed to settle the case rather than appeal an earlier federal jury verdict finding the city was liable for religious discrimination and retaliation, and ordering plaintiff’s damages and an award of attorney’s fees.

Evidence presented at trial showed that plaintiff filed a grievance against his supervisor for this overt religious pressure in the workplace, prompting an internal investigation. That investigation revealed the complaint had merit – but the city never took action against the supervisor. Instead, the city demoted the worker who filed the grievance, and then transferred him from the clerk’s office to the public utilities department. This new job site, he says, was far less desirable. On top of that, he was stripped of his supervisory title and left in a role with less upward mobility potential. Continue Reading ›

Jurors awarded $21 million to plaintiff in a religious discrimination lawsuit after she, a devout Christian, was fired from her hotel dishwasher position, in part for refusal to work Sundays. As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, an employer who fails to make reasonable accommodations for a worker’s sincerely-held beliefs can be found in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. religious discrimination work

At the crux of whether an accommodation is reasonable is if the requested accommodation would impose an undue hardship, defined as a more than minimal burden on the business. A religious practice can be considered “sincerely-held” to a person even if it’s newly-adopted, not observed with consistency or varies from the commonly-followed tenants of the religion.

The 60-year-old mother-of-six plaintiff in this case, in addition to being a dishwasher and immigrant from Haiti, is part of a Catholic missionary church that aids the poor. According to her federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Miami, she informed her employer – a posh downtown hotel – that she informed her employer of the need for accommodation when she first started her job, and specifically cited her religious beliefs. Sunday, according to Christian religious texts, is supposed to be a day of rest and devotion to God. Continue Reading ›

Religious discrimination is sadly common in today’s workforce. What is surprising to learn is the shocking statements that are made, and the blatant manner in which some employees still face religious discrimination in the workplace. Both California and federal law protect workers’ rights to a workplace free of such harassment.religious discrimination attorneys Continue Reading ›

A company that contracts to provide passenger wheelchair assistance at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City is being accused of religious discrimination. The charge comes from the New York City Human Rights Commission, which says the company, which offers services to 32 airlines and employs some 250 workers at Terminal 4, violated worker rights by not allowing them breaks during which to pray during daily prayers or to eat after fasting for Ramadan.airport

According to USA Today, supervisors reportedly harassed workers who follow Islam via a radio system whenever the employees requested prayer time breaks. Those messages were reportedly spiteful and included statements like, “We don’t care about Ramadan” and assertions that workers would be given breaks at company-designated times, not worker-designated times.

If the allegations are proven, they would carry a maximum civil penalty of $250,000, on top of compensatory damages that might be paid to workers. The deputy commissioner of the city’s law enforcement bureau that religious discrimination will not be tolerated and that employees of every faith have the right to ask for religious accommodations. Further, no worker should be harassed or otherwise discriminated against for asking to have a break during which to adhere to observance of their faith.  Continue Reading ›

Four Sikh truckers in California have settled an anti-discrimination lawsuit against their employers who fired them for refusing to cut their hair to undergo a drug test.trucking

In Sikhism, it’s part of a practice called Kesh that allows one’s hair to grow naturally as a matter of respect for the perfection of God’s creation. The idea is to live the way God made you. It is a tightly-held tenant, one of the five articles of faith of the Sikh religion. When refused to have have it clipped for the drug test, his employer fired him. One plaintiff called the incident, which occurred five years ago, “One of the hardest times of my life.”

Now, he and four other trucker applicants will split a $260,000 damage award to resolve allegations of religious discrimination in employment.  Continue Reading ›

A Muslim police officer who is Pakistani-American has filed a federal religious discrimination lawsuit against the New York Police Department, alleging he was wrongly suspended during Ramadan for refusal to shave his one-inch beard. razor

The 32-year-old officer says the no-beard policy, the subject of his class action employment lawsuit, is an infringement on the rights of some 100 Muslim police officers employed by the NYPD who are simply trying to exercise their freedom of religion without fear of retaliation or discrimination.

Plaintiff is a 10-year veteran on the force, and his primary duties involve handling disciplinary proceedings against fellow officers. He was reportedly suspended without pay. However, in an emergency hearing before a federal district court judge, the department was ordered to continue paying him for at least another three weeks until his next court date, at which time it will be decided whether he will be allowed to come back to work.  Continue Reading ›

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