Not surprisingly, discrimination against others because of their religion or ethnicity increased after 9/11. Employers harassed and terminated employees who requested reasonable accommodations to perform their work.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not allow employer discrimination against employees based on their practice of religion. In most cases, religious discrimination involves either an employee’s physical image or a request for work schedule accommodations for religious observance. The employer is required to honor the employee’s request as long as it does not provide a hardship on the company.
Successful litigation against religious discrimination practices
American laws protect the fundamental right to practice religion. Recent settlements for workers whose legal counsel filed religious discrimination lawsuits with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission include the following:
- Hospitality staffing company in Orlando, Florida – $30,000 award to a Rastafarian prep cook dismissed for his dreadlocks, although the employee made sure they did not show by pushing them up under his cap
- Logging company in Alcolu, South Carolina – $53,000 award to a truck driver fired after several years with the company because he could not work on Saturday due to his Hebrew Pentecostal religion
- Diner restaurant in Farmington, New Mexico – $25,000 out-of-court settlement to a Muslim employee discharged for wearing a headscarf required by her religion
- Logistics company in Baltimore, Maryland – $94,541 award to a male worker, hired and fired the same day; a company manager withdrew the offer of employment that evening after the company decided not to make religious accommodations of time off for Rosh Hashanah they had promised him
Employees can achieve justice by fighting against discrimination
It can feel intimidating for employees to challenge a company. All workers deserve justice and fairness in the workplace. If an employer refuses to honor an employee’s request for religious accommodations, employees have legal options to protect their rights.