Los Angeles Religion Discrimination Lawyer

Los Angeles Religion Discrimination Lawyer

Los Angeles Religion Discrimination Attorney

In our increasingly diverse society, the concept of religious freedom takes center stage in many discussions, both in public and private spaces. However, not all encounters with this freedom are positive; some individuals face religious discrimination, a pervasive and sometimes, subtle form of prejudice that can severely impact one’s personal and professional life. 

The primary laws that protect employees against discrimination based on their religious beliefs are the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

At Theory Law APC, their team and their Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer can provide more in-depth guidance on how these laws function and what they mean for you.

As a fictional example, let’s take a journey into the life of Sam, a diligent employee who loves his job but finds himself battling an unseen enemy – religion discrimination in his workplace. His story, while fictional, sheds light on a very real and persistent issue that affects many lives and workplaces today. We’ll refer to this story throughout this page as examples.

Sam's Story: The First Encounter

As an orthodox Jew, Sam always made sure not to schedule any work on Saturdays, because he observed the Sabbath. However, after his company merged with a larger corporation, the new management decided to enforce a compulsory six-day work week, including Saturdays. Now, Sam’s religious beliefs came into direct conflict with his professional commitments.

Many might wonder, can’t the company accommodate Sam’s religious observance? Under both the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers may have a legal obligation to respect an employee’s religious beliefs.

Federal and California Laws: Your Rights and Protections

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are designed to prevent employers from taking unfair employment practices against employees because of their religion, as well as other protected categories. 

These laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their religious beliefs, practices, or affiliations. Under the FEHA and Title VII, employers have a legal obligation to respect and accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs, unless it imposes an undue hardship on the company. “Undue hardship” generally refers to any action that requires significant difficulty or expense to the employer when considered in light of various factors. As long as the employer is subject to these laws, the employee is protected.

At the federal level, Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees and covers various aspects of employment, including hiring, promotions, wages, termination, and other matters. A claim for workplace religious discrimination can be made through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

California has long been a trailblazer in setting progressive legal standards, particularly in the area of employment discrimination. The FEHA, one of the nation’s most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, takes firm action against religion discrimination in the workplace.

For instance, that could mean altering work schedules for Sabbath observers or allowing dress code modifications for religious reasons. It may also require employers to explore all available means of reasonably accommodating an employee’s religious practice before they can declare undue hardship.

The FEHA also offers broader protections against religious discrimination, and unlike Title VII, the FEHA applies to employers who have five or more employees. An employee or job applicant can bring a claim for religious discrimination against an employer subject to the FEHA by filing a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD).

To put that into perspective, let’s circle back to Sam. If he were working in California, the FEHA would provide him with a substantial safety net. His employer would need to consider various accommodation options like adjusting his work schedule, redistributing essential functions among other team members, or even reassigning him to a different role that doesn’t require Saturday work.

Unpacking Religion Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination bases on religious beliefs can happen at work in many ways, some obvious and others more covert. A blatant example may involve an employer not hiring a qualified candidate simply because they wear a hijab, a kippah, or any other religious attire. Meanwhile, a more subtle form of discrimination could be favoring employees of a particular faith in promotion or task assignments.

Direct discrimination refers to the unequal treatment or practices that discriminate against an individual. For example, suppose a Muslim employee, who is equally or more competent than his peers, is repeatedly overlooked for promotion because of his religion.

On the other hand, indirect discrimination, while not always as obvious, can be just as detrimental to the individual. This involves a seemingly neutral workplace policy that disproportionately affect employees of a certain religion. Take, for instance, a company-wide policy mandating that all employees must be clean-shaven, which could inadvertently discriminate against Sikh men who wear beards as part of their faith.

Examples of Religious Discrimination at Work

While the examples below are not exhaustive, you now understand that religious discrimination can occur in different ways at work. It not only infringes on the rights of the employee but also fosters a harmful work environment. This, in turn, can negatively impact the employee’s psychological health and overall wellbeing. Below are some examples of workplace religious discrimination:

  • A coworker or supervisor might make derogatory remarks or jokes about an employee’s religion or religious practices. This is also known as religious harassment. For instance, a Jewish employee who is repeatedly harassed by their co-workers anti-Semitic comments or jokes, or a Muslim employee who faces derogatory remarks about their prayer practices or religion.
  • An employer who repeatedly schedules important meetings on an employee’s day of worship or refuses to accommodate requests for prayer breaks, knowing that these practices are integral to the employee’s faith. After the employee reports this to HR, he is reprimanded and ultimately fired. Such an employee may need to speak with an attorney or file a complaint with the EEOC or Civil Rights Department.
  • Passing on a highly qualified candidate for a job or promotion based on their religious affiliations. For instance, a Sikh man might be passed over a promotion for a managerial role because he wears a turban. If the employee can show that he was passed over because of his religion, he may strengthen his case.
  • A company rule that prohibits head coverings. This would negatively impact Sikh men who wear turbans or Muslim women who wear hijabs.
  • If an employee complains about religious discrimination or supports a coworker’s complaint, the employer or coworkers might retaliate by excluding the employee from meetings, giving them less desirable assignments, creating a hostile work environment, or firing them. The employee may want to speak with an attorney or file a complaint with a state or federal entity.


Empowering Action Against Religious Discrimination

Religion discrimination is a serious issue, and if an employee uspects they’ve become a victim, they can take immediate action. Documenting instances of discrimination or harassment because of religion can be essential to proving their claim. Keeping track of each incident, noting who was involved, what was said or done, when and where it occurred, and whether there were any witnesses.

Next, the employee can report the issue to their supervisor or human resources department, following the company’s procedure for raising such concerns. If there’s no appropriate remedial action taken by the employer, it might be time for the employee to consult with a legal professional.

Religious discrimination might seem like an uphill battle, but with awareness, proper actions, and the right legal help, employees can take a stand against it. Everyone deserves to practice their faith freely, without fear of prejudice or bias, especially in their place of work.

Should you suspect that you’re on the receiving end of religious discrimination or harassment, it’s crucial to act swiftly. Get in touch with an experienced Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer at Theory Law APC without delay. Our law firm stands ready to navigate you through the complexities of the situation while giving you the legal care that you need and clarifying your rights and potential courses of action.

How Can Theory Law Help You?

If you need help regarding a legal matter and would like to discuss it with an attorney, please call (310) 500-0206 or complete and submit the e-mail form below, and the attorney will contact you.

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