Discriminating against a worker for religion, race, age or another factor is unacceptable in the workplace. In some cases, discrimination may be committed by coworkers. If an employer discriminates against you or fires you for your religious beliefs or practices, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.
According to federal laws, workplaces with more than 15 employees cannot discriminate against workers because of their religious beliefs. New York City’s state and local laws provide the same protection to people who work in places with four or more employees. If your employer explicitly told you that accommodations were not made or time off was not grated because of your religious beliefs, the discrimination may be more evident. However, discrimination is not always that direct. It may be an observed set of actions that seem tied to your religious practices, clothing or other aspects of your beliefs. An attorney can help you evaluate those incidents.
According to the New York Attorney General, employers must also make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices and observances. The only exception is if the practice would create an undue hardship for the employer. For example, if a person is not allowed to handle certain food products because of religious beliefs, the employer could let the employee work in a different department or ask a coworker to handle those products. However, since choosing not to stock and sell those products at all may hurt the business financially, the employer does not have to stop selling them to provide accommodations. An undue hardship is determined based on the nature of the work, any related costs, the employee’s scope of work, potential legal conflicts, safety issues, how many people require an accommodation and how the change would affect the business. Accommodations apply to both large and small religious groups.
Unless it would create an undue and verifiable hardship for the employer, the employer must allow a worker to take holy days off from work. The law protects individuals who want to practice religious observances, and this is applicable to required and non-required practices. However, employees are required to notify their employers when they need accommodations or time off for special observances. While employers cannot ask personal questions about religious beliefs, they are allowed to ask basic questions about rules or practices to better evaluate requests for accommodations. Employers should extend accommodations. Although an extended accommodation may not be exactly what a worker requests, it should still provide a reasonable alternative to meet the worker’s needs. Another type of discrimination against religious workers is through clothing choices. If a religion requires men or women to wear certain styles of clothing, an employer must usually allow those required styles.
When employers make reasonable accommodations that are in accordance with the law, they usually come in the form of designated prayer locations, department changes, schedule changes, dress code exceptions and special breaks. If you are unsure about your religious needs being met in the workplace, you should discuss your concerns with a knowledgeable attorney.
If you were recently discriminated against for your religious beliefs or practices, one of our attorneys can help. Although most employers know the rules about making accommodations for religious practices, some may still not know what they need to do. Being treated unfairly can cause you emotional distress, anxiety or other mental health issues. Our sensitive attorneys have helped many other New York City residents reach favorable outcomes. Your employer is also not legally allowed to retaliate if you speak up about discrimination. To see if you have a religious discrimination case, please call us for a confidential evaluation. We have multiple offices throughout Manhattan and Long Island.
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