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Religious Minorities

Religious Minorities

Outten & Golden Legal Resistance Task Force

What workplace rights do I have based on my religion?

Federal and state law protects you from discrimination based on your religious beliefs or practices.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines religion to include “all aspects of religious observance and practice as well as belief.”  Religion includes traditional, organized religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as religious beliefs that are new, uncommon or only practiced by a small number of individuals or even just one person; however, mere personal preferences are not religious beliefs. Most religious organizations, however, are permitted to give employment preferences to individuals of their own religion.

You are also protected from harassment in the workplace because of your religious beliefs or practices (or lack thereof) or because of the religious beliefs of people with whom you associate.  Religious harassment occurs when your employer requires you to abandon, alter or adopt a religious belief or practice as a condition of employment or subjects you to offensive religious based statements or conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile or abusive work environment.  Harassing conduct may include derogatory comments, mocking, ridicule or intimidation based on a religious belief or practice.  Even proselytizing of employees who find such conduct to be unwanted or offensive may contribute to a hostile work environment.

By law, your employer is required to provide you with a requested reasonable accommodation of your sincerely held religious beliefs or practices unless your employer can show that such accommodation would cause an undue hardship.  A need for accommodation arises where your religious beliefs or practices conflict with a specific work-related task or job requirement.  A request for accommodation may include altering to your work schedule to accommodate attendance of worship services or providing breaks to pray.

Your employer is also prohibited from retaliating against you for engaging in a protected activity related to your religious beliefs such as complaining to human resources about alleged religious discrimination or requesting reasonable accommodation for a religious observance or practice. 

Religious observances or practices include, among other things, attending worship services, observing holy days, wearing religious dress or symbols, praying, or adhering to grooming practices or certain dietary restrictions.

Please note that this information is not a substitute for legal advice.  If you have any questions about your protections or believe that your rights are being violated, please contact us.  Any information provided to will be kept strictly confidential.

Religious Minorities resources:

ACLU – (provides information about your rights when faced with anti-Muslim discrimination)

CAIR – NY – (provides information on your rights when approached by law enforcement)

Anti-Defamation League - (provides education resources on refugees, people of Muslim faith and anti-Muslim bigotry)

United Against the Muslim Ban: (provides information and resources to challenge Trump’s Muslim ban)

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