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Religious messages can create a hostile work environment

An employer may use religious messages in the workplace without intending to cause any harm, but these can create a hostile work environment. Not every employee is expected to be of the same religion, so some may feel discriminated against when these messages are prevalent.

For example, one court determined that an employer that had been putting religious articles in a newsletter that was given out to the employees was guilty of religious harassment. The employer had also decided to write Bible verses on the employees' paychecks.

In another case, an employer allowed prayers to be broadcast on the PA system every day. This went on for an entire year. A court determined that this created a hostile work environment for workers who did not want to hear those prayers by subjecting them to it against their will.

When people think of religious harassment in the workplace, they often think of insults, disparaging remarks, and other aggressive actions of this nature, where someone is attacked for his or her beliefs. As these cases show, that does not always have to happen for a hostile workplace environment to exist. The employer simply has to do something that the employee may object to, which can then make that employee uncomfortable at work. Regardless of religion, all employees are supposed to have a work environment in which they feel safe, comfortable and accepted.

If you've been subjected to harassment or if you've been working in a hostile environment--even if it was not created intentionally--be sure that you know all of the legal rights you have in Florida.

Source: UCLA, "What Speech Does "Hostile Work Environment" Harassment Law Restrict?," Eugene Volokh, accessed April 20, 2016

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