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Speaking out against religious discrimination in the workplace

In the United States, every individual has the right to freedom of religion or the right to refrain from any organized religious practice if he or she chooses. This right carries over into the workplace as well, but unfortunately, various types of religious discrimination still affect New York workers.

If you are a victim of any type of religious discrimination at work, you do not have to simply take it. It can be daunting to do so, but you may stand up for yourself and speak out against this type of illegal treatment in the workplace. If you are dealing with religious discrimination, you may find it useful to reach out for help in order to better understand your rights and options.

What counts as religious discrimination?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious discrimination is any type of negative or different treatment directed at a person on the basis of his or her religious beliefs. You may experience this type of discrimination if you practice a certain religion or have a spouse who does.

Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most common ways that it happens in the workplace can include the following:

  • Passing over a qualified applicant on the basis of his or her religion
  • Subjecting a person to inappropriate religious jokes, comments or questions
  • Refusing to provide reasonable religious accommodations for an employee
  • Firing a person or paying less for equal work because of religious beliefs
  • Segregating an employee from activities, meetings and other things because of religion

Isolated or minor incidents likely do not fall into the category of religious discrimination, but a pattern of mistreatment over a period of time could. If you are unsure, you always have the right to know.

Protecting your employee rights

It's difficult to know what to do when you believe that you are a victim of religious discrimination at work. You are entitled to an explanation of your legal options, and if you have a case, you have the right to move forward with the appropriate course of action.

You can stand up for your right to a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. Your employer cannot fire you or retaliate against you for reporting religious discrimination in the workplace, and as the victim, you could have the right to seek financial compensation for what you experienced. There are both state and federal laws that protect you against religious discrimination. 

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