Religious Discrimination in the Workplace – Both federal and California law prohibit discrimination based on religion and require employers to make reasonable accommodations for their employees’ religious beliefs that are associated with traditional religions, such as observances and certain practices. For example, an employee is a devout Christian and attends mass every Sunday morning, however his employer forces him to come into work Sunday morning despite being notified that he attends church every Sunday. The employee refuses citing religious reasons and is terminated. Here, the employer has violated the law by terminating the employee due to his religion. Further, the employer failed to accommodate the employee.
EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc.
Here is a case that occurred a couple years ago that is a great example of religious discrimination in the workplace. Although it is not a California case, it is still shows what an employer should not do in the event their employee seeks a valid religious accommodation.
Khan worked for Abercrombie and Fitch in the stockroom. She worked there for roughly five months. Khan is a Muslim teenage woman and wears a hijab as is tradition in the Muslim religion. When she was first employed Khan was told that her hijabs must match Hollister colors. She agreed to this. However, later in her employment she was told that her hijab was against company dress code. Abercrombie told her that if she did not remove her hijab, she would be removed from the work schedule. Khan was fired for refusing to remove her hijab.
In a religious discrimination case, the person discriminated against must show that he or she holds a bona fide belief in her religion, that her or his religious beliefs conflict with a particular job duty, and finally that the employer took adverse action against the employee based on his or her religious beliefs. Here, Khan let Abercrombie know that she was a devout Muslim. Second, that her religion prohibited her from removing her hijab which conflicted with Abercrombie’s demand that she remove it. And finally, Abercrombie fired her because of her refusal to remove her hijab due to her religious beliefs. Abercrombie tried to argue that Khan wearing a hijab caused undue hardship to Abercrombie because Abercrombie’s economic success depended in-store employees looking a certain way. The court disagreed with Abercrombie’s argument because Abercrombie did not show actual loss to constitute undue hardship. The court ruled in favor of Khan and found there was in fact religious discrimination.
Contact an Employment Lawyer if You Have Been Discriminated Against
The freedom to practice one’s religion is rooted in the foundation of this country. EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc. is a victory for employees. While an employer may be able to tell you how to do your job, an employer cannot dictate how and when an employee practices his or her religion. If your employer has taken adverse action against you for your religious beliefs, contact an religious discrimination lawyer today!