Employment Discrimination Help

Religious Discrimination Help

Religious discrimination takes place when an employer treats or allows others to treat an employee unfavorably due to person’s religious beliefs. Unfavorable treatment may express itself in the forms of denial of time off during person’s religious holidays; prohibiting a person from displaying signed of religious beliefs while other employees, of a different religion, are allowed to do so; harassing an employee due to his/her religion; mocking an employee’s religious symbols, etc.

Discrimination may also occur when an employer/manager decides to unfavorably alter person’s employment environment due to the employee’s religious beliefs or practices.

An employer has a duty to accommodate employees reasonable requests regarding religious practices. The employer would not have to comply with employee’s requests only if compliance will cause undue hardship to the employer.

Commonly, the religious discrimination takes place when employee is denied certain days off or is prohibited from wearing certain religious garments such as hijab or yarmulke.

An employee has to request an accommodation. An employer has a right to inquire if the employee holds his/her beliefs sincerely. Although the parties should remain flexible when formulating such an accommodation, the employer need not offer the employee's preferred accommodation; rather, "when any reasonable accommodation is provided, the statutory inquiry ends.” Cosme v. Henderson, 287 F.3d 152, 158 (2d Cir. 2002)

What to do if an employer refuses to accommodate employee’s requests?

The first step that an employee should undertake is to submit the complaint to the employer’s HR department or to the owner of the company. An employee may also utilize Federal and State agencies such as EEOC and New York State Division of Human Rights. If, and only if, an employer still would not provide reasonable accommodation and/or instead would retaliate against an employee, an employee has a right to submit the controversy to a State or Federal court.

Can an employer require uniform that prohibits display of religious beliefs/practices/items?

Yes, an employer may require a specific uniform at work. However, the policy has to be applied universally to all employees.

Are there any employers who may discriminated based on religion during hiring process?

Yes, naturally, there are religious institutions which may choose their employees based on religion beliefs.

What is a ministerial exception?

Basically, a “ministerial exception” states that the courts cannot intervene into the business of religious institutions.

As one court explained it: “The term "ministerial exception" is judicial shorthand, but like any trope, while evocative, it is imprecise. The ministerial exception protects more than just "ministers," see Tomic, 442 F.3d at 1040-41 (applying exception to organist/music director); Alicea-Hernandez v. Catholic Bishop, 320 F.3d 698, 704 (7th Cir. 2003) (press secretary); Roman Catholic Diocese, 213 F.3d at 803-04 (director of music ministries), and it is not confined to the Christian faith, see Shaliehsabou v. Hebrew Home of Greater Wash., Inc., 363 F.3d 299, 309-11  [207]  (4th Cir. 2004) (applying exception to staff of Jewish nursing home). Moreover, although its name might imply an absolute exception, it is not always a complete barrier to suit; for example, a case may proceed if it involves a limited inquiry that, "combined with the ability of the district court to control discovery, can prevent a wide-ranging intrusion into sensitive religious matters." Bollard v. Cal. Province of the Soc'y of Jesus, 196 F.3d 940, 950 (9th Cir. 1999).” Rweyemamu v. Cote, 520 F.3d 198, 199 (2d Cir. Conn. 2008)

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