The First Amendment to the Constitution grants every adult the right to freedom of religion in the United States. You can believe what you want and practice a faith based on your preferences or cultural heritage.
Not only do you have the freedom to practice your religion, but you also have protection from discrimination by your employer based on your faith. You should not lose out on basic life opportunities because of your beliefs or religious observances.
Unfortunately, religious discrimination remains a serious issue for many workers. There are several possible ways that religious discrimination can manifest, including the two common issues below.
Employment setbacks because of your faith (or lack thereof)
Perhaps you are an atheist or agnostic. You don’t actively participate in a religion, but many of your coworkers and managers are religious. If other people at the company realize that you don’t belong to a church or attend services, they might treat you differently and deny you opportunities.
The same thing could happen if you belong to a less common religion, like Baha’i or Sikhism, and work at a company primarily run by Christians or Muslims. You could receive worse shifts, fewer opportunities, and even poor performance reviews because people claim that you don’t fit with the company’s culture.
Employers should not change their perspective of your job performance or reduce your opportunities because of your religion or decision to not follow a particular faith.
Another way that companies discriminate against people based on religion is by refusing to accommodate the basic faith-based needs of their employees. Not letting a Muslim woman cover her hair at work would be one example. Refusing to allow Christian workers to take Sunday off of work at a retail shop when there is enough staff to cover those shifts is another example.
Employers do not have to accommodate religious observations if those accommodations will impose a hardship on the business. However, if the company is big enough to absorb the challenges created by religious holidays and services, they should work with employees who are strict adherents to their religion.
Identifying religious discrimination and documenting experiences can help you challenge your employer’s practices and assert your basic rights.