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religious discrimination

Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination involves treating a person (job applicant or employee) unfavorably because of their religious beliefs—or lack of religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions—such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism—but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs.

Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of religion. It is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of their religion in regard to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment.

Religious Discrimination and Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Religious Discrimination and Harassment

It is illegal to harass a person because of his or her religion.

Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person's religious beliefs or practices. Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren't very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Religious Discrimination and Segregation

Title VII also prohibits workplace or job segregation based on religion (including religious garb and grooming practices), such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.

Religious Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodation

The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer's business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.

Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.

Religious Accommodation, Dress, and Grooming Policies

Unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer's operation of its business, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices. This applies not only to schedule changes or leave for religious observances, but also to such things as dress or grooming practices that an employee has for religious reasons. These might include, for example, wearing particular head coverings or other religious dress (such as a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim headscarf), or wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair (such as Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard). It also includes an employee's observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (such as pants or miniskirts).

When an employee or applicant needs a dress or grooming accommodation for religious reasons, they should notify the employer of their need for such an accommodation for religious reasons. If the employer reasonably needs more information, the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process to discuss the request. If it would not pose an undue hardship, the employer must grant the accommodation.

Religious Discrimination, Reasonable Accommodation, and Undue Hardship

An employer does not have to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work. Undue hardship also may be shown if the request for an accommodation violates others' job rights established through a collective bargaining agreement or seniority system.

Religious Discrimination and Employment Policies or Practices

An employee cannot be forced to participate (or not participate) in a religious activity as a condition of employment.


It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on religion or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

In Texas, religious discrimination in the workplace is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is a federal law applicable across all states. This law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their religion in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, and other employment conditions. Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees' religious beliefs and practices, such as flexible scheduling and dress or grooming modifications, unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the business. Harassment based on religion that creates a hostile work environment or leads to adverse employment decisions is also illegal. Additionally, employers cannot segregate employees based on religion or religious garb and grooming practices. Retaliation against individuals who oppose discriminatory practices, file discrimination charges, or participate in discrimination investigations or litigation is unlawful. While Texas state law also prohibits employment discrimination, including on the basis of religion, the protections under Title VII are generally the primary source of legal recourse for individuals facing religious discrimination in the workplace.

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