Religious Discrimination

The employment attorneys at The Harman Firm, LLP, are knowledgeable about the various federal, state, and local laws that protect employees from discrimination based on their religion—namely, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Religious discrimination in the workplace can take two primary forms: disparate treatment and the failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religion. Religious disparate treatment claims follow the same analysis as discrimination based on race, gender, or any other protected category. An employer may not subject an employee to harassment—whether by a manager, coworker, and third party (like a customer or security guard)—based on religion. Nor may an employer take adverse action against an employee (such as termination, demotion, or discipline) because of the employee’s religious beliefs.

Religious discrimination also includes an employer’s failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious beliefs and related observances. Such accommodations may include an exemption in a uniform policy to allow the employee to wear certain religious garments (such as a yarmulke or a headscarf), groom themselves in a certain way (as in the case of a Sikh beard or Rastafarian dreadlocks), or be absent from work to observe a religious holiday.

The employee must show that their bona fide religious belief conflicted with an employment requirement, that they informed the employer of this belief, and that they were either disciplined for failure to comply with the conflicting employment requirement or otherwise denied any requested accommodation. Once the employee establishes this, the burden shifts to the employer to prove either that it offered to reasonably accommodate the employee or that it was unable to do so without “undue hardship.” Generally, an employer must accommodate an employee with these religious needs, so long as doing so does not place an undue hardship on the employer’s business. If an employee requests a religious accommodation and is treated badly by their employer after doing so, they may also have a retaliation claim.

Some types of employers, however, such as religious employers, may legally consider an individual’s religious beliefs when making employment decisions. For example, a Jewish community center can prohibit the hiring of non-Jewish applicants, due to its religious focus and mission. Also, ministers and their employment relationships are not covered by Title VII, the NYSHRL, or the NYCHRL’s religious discrimination provisions, due to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause’s prohibition againsts state interference with religious groups.

The Harman Firm, LLP, believes that religious beliefs should not be an obstacle to obtaining and keeping employment and assists employees who believe they have been discriminated against or harassed because of their religious beliefs, as well as those who have been denied religious accommodations by their employers. If your employer has discriminated against you based on your religion—including harassing you because of your religious beliefs, failing to accommodate your religious obligations, or terminating or refusing to hire you because of your religion, contact the employment lawyers at The Harman Firm, LLP, for experienced and supportive representation in religious discrimination claims.

New York Employment Attorneys Blog - Religious Discrimination
Client Reviews
★★★★★
"Thank you for all your help. I appreciate your work. I am grateful for the outcome of our case but I wish in future cases with pregnant women you will get a lot of publicity and make a difference in the mentality of our society, and prevent it from happening in the future." A.L.
★★★★★
"I just wanted to take time out to say THANK YOU. Words cannot describe how grateful and blessed I feel right now. It has been a long and difficult battle for me. Thank you for believing in me and taking on this case. You have lifted an enormous amount of weight off my shoulders. I am confident God will allow a victorious outcome for all of us, we deserve it!" S.D.
★★★★★
"I just read an article about unpaid interns filing a lawsuit and I thought of you guys. Hope we see more lawsuits like this. Lawyers like you are making the workplace better for employees with the work you do. They've been paying on time. Thanks so much - been helping a lot and taking a huge weight off. Wishing you well." J.
★★★★★
"I just want to say Thank You for being so professional, supportive, dedicated and pleasant throughout the past few months. I am so glad I found your firm and I really appreciate all your hard work and determination. It really made a difficult time that much easier, thank you! Best wishes to you both." V.