Employers must not discriminate against employees based on their religion, and they must accommodate employees’ needs to practice their faiths.
Federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) and most state laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of religion. This means that your employer cannot make any decisions based on — or treat you differently because of — your religious beliefs or practices.
Employers are also required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause the company undue hardship. This might mean not scheduling an employee to work on his or her Sabbath day, for example, or relaxing a dress code so that an employee can wear religious garments.
Companies do, however, have some flexibility in how they accommodate employees. An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation — not to accept whatever accommodation the employee suggests, nor to spare the employee all expenses in making the accommodation. For example, your employer might give you the day off for a religious observance, but do so without pay.
For more information on religious discrimination, including how to respond if you believe you have been discriminated against because of your religion, contact your local field office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (contact information is available at www.eeoc.gov) or your state fair employment practices agency. Note that if you wish to file a complaint with a government agency and/or file a lawsuit, there are time limits for doing so. Be sure not to miss them
© 2010 Nolo. Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Nolo, Copyright 2009, http://www.nolo.com
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