Once the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “This is really easy.” He announced the court was siding with Elauf 8 to 1, ruling that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it’s illegal to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion. Religious Discrimination in the Workplace. 202-663-4900 / (TTY) 202-663-4494, Call 1-800-669-4000 Harassment includes creating or maintaining a hostile work environment against religion. The federal government protects against discrimination based on religion, along with race, sex, age, and disability. Religious discrimination in the workplace is any employment-related action that impacts employees differently because of their religion or beliefs practices. The law spells out some rules of the road for business leaders to follow: Companies can’t discriminate against protected classes, and they have to provide reasonable accommodations for people’s religions. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. 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. 2. An employer does not have to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. “But employers need to understand that where that runs into trouble is when their business prerogative conflicts with a person’s fundamental religious rights.”. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination based on religion. Religious Discrimination in Employment A collection of articles and resources on religious discrimination in the workplace. In some ways, Abercrombie did what companies do every day—they turn people down because they’re not the right fit,” van Bever says. 3. 1. Take the case of auto parts retailer AutoZone, which agreed to pay $75,000 for telling an employee he couldn’t wear a turban to work after converting to Sikhism. If it would not pose an undue hardship, the employer must grant the accommodation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits, among other things, religious discrimination in any facet of employment. 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). For Deaf/Hard of Hearing callers: 8 min read. The ruling should spur business leaders to reflect on whether their own branding practices might discriminate against certain workers, van Bever says. Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. Shirtless, tan men known as “lifeguards” were placed conspicuously near store entrances because “good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people,” Jeffries said in a 2006 Salon interview. 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. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site. Can owners of small, private companies reject customers based on religious convictions? What is a “religion”? All over the world, religious intolerance is one of the leading causes of conflict and misunderstanding. This includes the hiring process, promotion opportunities, salaries, the firing process, employee benefits, and even participation in team-building and other social activities at work. tion cases, workplace diversity has been viewed as something of a safe harbor from charges of discrimination. Yet, some organizations can openly and legally engage in religious discrimination. Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices. Religious discrimination in the workplace can take many forms and be present in every phase of the employment cycle. The primary purpose of this article, therefore, is to discuss the possible causes of religious discrimination between different religions in the whole world. Religious discrimination claims make up a fraction of the workplace discrimination claims filed in the US each year. Johnson’s order barred discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “But we talk to students about how a leader’s job is fundamentally to make decisions in the gray. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion (or lack of religious belief) in hiring, firing, or any other terms and conditions of employment. If employers make sure people feel respected, van Bever says, that might prevent a situation from escalating to becoming the distraction, financial expense, and reputation risk that both of these cases devolved into. Washington, DC 20507 “In both of these cases, people felt offended. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. The proposed document and a way to submit comments can be found at https://beta.regulations.gov/document/EEOC-2020-0007-0001. 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. Which federal law covers religious discrimination? For example, if an applicant is not offered a retail job because their faith doesn’t permit them to work on Saturdays. “Companies need to check their posture. Under the direction of CEO Michael Jeffries, the company held onto a hint of its hallmark safari style while putting a greater emphasis on casual clothes and ballooned to more than 1,000 stores worldwide, with revenues exceeding $3.5 billion by 2008. 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. The subject is so third-rail hot that even Harvard Business School has devoted relatively few courses and case studies to it. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Religious discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of l964. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission joined the lawsuit. In van Bever’s Leadership and Corporate Accountability course, discussions are heated. Most employers may not discriminate based on religion, must reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and practices, and must protect other employees against the unwelcome religious behaviors of their co-workers or managers. It can happen when advertising a job, holding a company event, or even after an employee has left. “… This was shocking to me.”. Phillips, who had previously turned away requests for cakes to celebrate Halloween, lewd bachelor parties, and divorce parties, suggested the couple buy one of his premade cakes instead. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that administers federal discrimination laws – reported that only 3,721 of the 93,727 charges of workplace discrimination filed for 2013 alleged claims of religious discrimination. “But this will continue to come up, so, at some point, they’re going to have to make a call.”. 1-844-234-5122 (ASL Video Phone) The courts have found that companies don’t have to agree to all religion-related requests from employees, but they do have to make an attempt at a reasonable accommodation. 3. This law prohibits government from encouraging or promoting religion in any way. It is illegal to harass a person because of his or her religion. This article discusses the issues related to religion in the workplace, a topic that has received considerable attention in the media recently. See also Bagni, B, ‘ Discrimination in the name of the lord: a critical evaluation of discrimination by religious organisations ’ (1979) 79 Colum LR 1514. Sporting goods retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, founded in 1892, blossomed after being acquired by The Limited in 1988. Learn about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees rights, filing an EEOC complaint, and much more. “This is when right meets right,” van Bever says. News about Religion and Belief, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times. An overview of significant cases of dispute between employers and employees is provided, as well as examples of social partners’ initiatives to accommodate the needs of religious people in the workplace. Early in the history of Title VII, the Supreme Court rejected the premise that no question of bias could be present if a workplace has many mem- Religious Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation But then, nothing. Religious discrimination is now a major challenge to many individuals and … Both incidents arose from rather routine work situations that many businesses face, but when religious beliefs clashed with business principles, hurt feelings led to legal battles that dragged on for years. Frequently Asked Questions, Commissioner Charges and Directed Investigations, Equal Employment Opportunity Data Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act, Management Directives & Federal Sector Guidance, Federal Sector Alternative Dispute Resolution, https://beta.regulations.gov/document/EEOC-2020-0007-0001, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities, Fact Sheet on Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities, Employment Discrimination Based on Religion, Ethnicity, or Country of Origin, Questions and Answers for Employees: Responsibilities Concerning the Employment of Individuals Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern, Questions and Answers for Employers: Responsibilities Concerning the Employment of Individuals Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern. “My guess is that most companies don’t have a written policy that articulates how to handle religion in the workplace in a way that’s instructive for management,” says van Bever, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. Employees and applicants are protected from discrimination based on their religious beliefs and practices. For example, an employee might experience: 1. “It’s the fastest growth area in discrimination,” says Robert E. Gregg, an attorney with Boardman & Clark in Madison, Wis. Central to marketing the clothes was a dress code for employees that Jeffries called “The Look,” which has been described as a classic East Coast collegiate style. “The court punted,” van Bever says. In the second situation in van Bever’s case, Jack Phillips, founder of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, told Charlie Craig and David Mullins he would not make a cake for their same-sex wedding reception because it would communicate a message that contradicted his Christian convictions. 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. And it seems like the workplace climate may be getting worse: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considered 3,721 religious discrimination complaints in 2013, up … To fill that need, van Bever wrote the case study Managing Religion in the Workplace, using two high-profile cases of religious discrimination that were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years: one about a young Muslim woman who battled Abercrombie & Fitch for rejecting her job application because she wore a hijab for religious reasons; and the second about a baker whose religious beliefs compelled him to refuse to design a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception. The Commission is proposing to update its Compliance Manual on Religious Discrimination and is offering the public a chance to comment on the proposal. And through a discussion, if both sides can start to see the wisdom of the other, that’s a victory.”. An official website of the United States government. The two cases have raised questions for business owners and managers to contemplate. For example: a Muslim man visits his local takeaway regularly. Find your nearest EEOC office “Religion and business is considered one of the last taboos,” says Senior Lecturer Derek van Bever. In 2008, 17-year-old Samantha Elauf felt confident she had nailed her interview for a salesperson position at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Oklahoma, especially after a manager told her she’d receive a call in a few days about orientation. Written policies should be careful to respect a range of religious expressions. 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A friend who worked at the store did some digging into her application and found out a senior manager had blocked Elauf from being hired. The reason: He said the headscarf she wore as a symbol of modesty in her Muslim faith clashed with the store’s dress code. 2. The law also prohibits job segregation based on religion, such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion and requires employers to accommodate religious beliefs. “But you also have to keep people’s feelings in mind. “Our students have been asking for it because they see very clearly that they will be in positions of global leadership where they will have to deal with it.”. 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. For example, requiring employees to attend religious services (or prohibiting them from attending religious services). 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. Dan Bailey And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Purpose Of The IBC/WEF Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics Initiative: A Conversation With Brian Moynihan, “You want to make sure your organization has policies in place and they are being communicated so people on the front line don’t have to decide how to work through these issues and make things up in the moment.”, “You want to make sure your organization has policies in place and they are being communicated so people on the front line don’t have to decide how to work through these issues and make things up in the moment.”. According to this Act, employers may not hire, fire, or segregate employees based on religious belief. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. If the employer reasonably needs more information, the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process to discuss the request. That style dictated how salespeople, known as “sales models,” styled their hair, the look of their fingernails, their body type, and the sandals they wore. “I assume a lot of companies would be sympathetic to Abercrombie because they want to be clear from a brand perspective about the profile they’re putting forward in terms of whom they hire,” van Bever says. 1-800-669-6820 (TTY) 53 See further the discussion in L Vickers, Religious Freedom, Religious Discrimination and the Workplace, ch 3. 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. 4. The Muslim woman felt she was being attacked. In keeping with their Islamic faith, practicing Muslims pray five times each day. Media recently might experience: 1 can start to see the wisdom of the workplace this may be direct.. 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