Religious Discrimination Attorney in Orange, California
Since the founding of our country, there has always been an emphasis on an individual’s right to practice their own religion. After all, the first European colonists came to this land specifically to avoid religious persecution. Now, 250+ years later, the idea of freedom of religion that’s enshrined in the First Amendment continues to lead the way for modern laws addressing issues like education, housing, and employment.
So, what happens if you are discriminated against for your religious practices? The answer depends on the environment in which the discrimination occurred, but you do have avenues of redress available to you. If you’d like to speak with a religious discrimination attorney, call us at The Guha Law Firm. We can serve those in Orange, California, and throughout San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties.
What Is Religious Discrimination?
In an employment context, religious discrimination can take on many forms. Broadly speaking, it can refer to any action your employer takes based on your religion or religious practices that result in you being treated differently. This can be both overt acts like firing or demoting you, as well as subtle acts such as making comments about your dress or lifestyle.
Religious discrimination doesn’t always have to be detrimental to the employee. For example, if an employer selectively hires people who follow the Christian faith above others, they are also guilty of discrimination. Below are a few ways that discrimination can show up in the workplace:
Discrimination: Simply put, your employer is not allowed to base any decisions on an employee or prospective employee’s religion or lack thereof. This is discrimination, and it doesn’t matter whether their actions benefit you or disadvantage you.
Harassment: If your employer or others in your workplace engage in conduct or use language regarding your religion that creates a hostile or intimidating workplace, this is harassment and is considered a form of discrimination.
Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation: Employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees regarding their religious beliefs. For instance, a scheduling change could allow time for prayer, or a dress code modification could account for religious beliefs. If they refuse these accommodations, they are likely engaging in religious discrimination.
California Laws Regarding Religious Discrimination
Although the overarching definition of religious discrimination is more or less the same across the country, it’s also important to answer the question, “What is religious discrimination in California?” since states will have their own laws in addition to federal regulations prohibiting this practice.
California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): The FEHA was passed in 1959 and has continued to protect Californians from unfair practices in the housing and job market ever since. In short, the law prohibits discrimination based on a “protected characteristic,” one of which is religion or creed. Other protected characteristics under this law include age, race, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, medical condition, marital status, and disability.
The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act (CWRF), passed in 2012, expanded an employee's rights to religious accommodations regarding grooming and dress unless the employer can show they would be under an “undue hardship” by doing so. Examples of this could be allowing men to grow out a beard even if the company policy is to shave, or allowing women to wear long skirts instead of pants if their religion discourages it.
Some other accommodations for religious beliefs that can be requested in the workplace include:
Scheduling changes to accommodate religious holidays or religious practices.
Job reassignment if available to an equal position as you’re currently in.
Designating a private location at your workplace where you can engage in your religious practices.
Having the flexibility to swap or substitute shifts with another employee.
Being excused from certain company activities with a religious connotation (for example, a prayer at the beginning of a meeting).
What to Do If Your Rights Are Violated
If you feel your religious freedom has been violated at work, contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. They can help you figure out your next steps and ensure your interests are protected. This can be especially helpful if you’re hesitant to report the discrimination to your boss or human resources department for fear of retaliation. Your lawyer can help you report the illegal actions, gather evidence, and file a claim with the state to address it. You deserve to feel safe at your job and free from any discrimination based on your religion, and the same goes for job seekers as well.
Religious Discrimination Attorney Serving Orange, California
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against either at your current job or during the application process while trying to obtain a job, you can and should take action to address this. If you’re in the Orange, California, area and would like to sit down with an attorney to discuss your options, reach out to us at The Guha Law Firm.