Religious Rights

Federal, state and city laws prohibit employers from discriminating against you (job applicant or employee) by treating you differently, unfairly or unfavorably because of your religious beliefs or for being an atheist. Our workplace discrimination attorneys at DeToffol & Gittleman will fight for your rights against religious discrimination in the workplace.

Religious discrimination is not only limited to situations in which the victim is the individual who holds the protected belief. It is also considered religious discrimination when a job applicant or an employee is treated differently on account of the beliefs of a related individual (such as a spouse or friend), or because of his or her association or affiliation with a religious organization.

Generally, an employer is prohibited from religious discrimination in any aspect of employment, such as hiring, firing, benefits, pay, job assignments, layoffs, promotions, training, and any other terms or conditions of employment. Religion in the employment setting includes not only established religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism, but also sincerely held ethical, personal, or religious beliefs. Also, where certain company policies have the effect of discriminating against all people of a particular religion, those policies may also be found to be in violation of the law.

In addition, an employer is obligated to take prompt an necessary corrective measures if the employer discovers that supervisors or coworkers are harassing a fellow employee for religious reasons. If it fails to do so, it may be held liable for its employees’ actions.

It Is Unlawful For An Or Co-Worker Harass Or Discriminate Against An Employee Based On That Employee’s:

  • Affiliation: e.g. asking a Muslim worker if “are you a terrorist?”
  • Physical or cultural traits and clothing: e.g. harassing a woman wearing a hijab
  • Perception: e.g. retaliating against a Jewish employee after engaging him in a debate about Christianity
  • Association: e.g. refusing to promote an employee who is friends with known atheist

Employers Must Provide Reasonable Accommodations For Religious Practices

Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees’ religious practices, but do not need to provide accommodations where it would create an undue hardship for the employer. Sometimes these are bona fide qualifications of the job that the employer is entitled to require, but in other cases there are accommodations that can easily be made without any detriment to the employer. Accommodation issues also often arise with scheduling around particular religious observances.

Under the federal Civil Rights Act, an undue hardship for purposes of accommodation is interpreted to mean anything that has more than a minimal cost to the employer. New York City’s Human Rights Law was recently amended to strengthen the definition of undue hardship. This standard should make for more reasonable accommodations of religious practices by employers in New York City.

If you live and work in New York and have suffered any form of discrimination based on your religion or if your employer has refused to make reasonable accommodations for your religious beliefs, call our attorneys at DeToffol & Gittleman. At DeToffol & Gittleman, we represent victims of all kinds of religious discrimination or harassment in workplaces and we do not only listen to you, we act on your behalf to ensure that you do not continue to be a victim of workplace discrimination. So, call us now for your free and confidential consultation, contact us today at (212) 962-2220.