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Religious tensions high, workplace discrimination could follow


With continual violence across the world often associated with religion, it is becoming increasingly apparent that some American workers are being targeted with harassment and discrimination based on their appearance or religion. Thankfully, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is in place to protect an individual's right to practice religion, and stay free from discrimination based on his or her sex, race, color, national origin and religion. New York and most states throughout the country also have laws that protect an employee from discrimination.

Religious discrimination can take on many forms in the workplace, some of it seen or heard, much of it unseen or unspoken. Employers must treat all workers equally in the workplace, regardless of religion. Employers may use subdued tactics such as initiating a rule that forbids wearing headgear, which might conflict with an employee's religious dress code, as a form of disparate impact discrimination.

Considering the passion that many hold with their religious beliefs, and the myriad different religions and beliefs in the world, it is not uncommon for employees, whether co-workers and equals, or an employee and his or her superior, to get into a religious discussion that may turn heated or personal. Again it is important that biases and resentments not come into play based on a person's religion.

Like most relationships in life, to stay healthy there must be some give and take and accommodations to be made to keep both sides happy. While an employer may allow someone to not work on Saturdays due to religious beliefs, there are still expectations that the employee also make an effort to accommodate the employer's needs. Considering the subjectivity of the situation, determining employment discrimination may be difficult to prove at times. Having an attorney look at the situation may be in an employee's best interest in determining whether any rights have been violated.

Source: FindLaw, "Religion in the Workplace," Accessed on Dec. 8, 2015

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