Religious Discrimination Attorneys

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New Jersey Religious Discrimination Attorneys

Protecting Against Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from engaging in religious discrimination in the workplace. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) also protects against religious discrimination in employment. Under both the federal and New Jersey laws, it is illegal for an employer to treat you differently or to harass you because of your religion. And, under both laws, your employer is required to “reasonably accommodate” your religious needs unless doing so would impose “an undue hardship on the conduct of [your] employer’s business.” Still, religious discrimination continues in many forms. If you were denied a promotion, accommodation of your religion’s requirements, or a job altogether due to your religious beliefs or lack thereof, you should speak to an employment discrimination attorney to determine whether your rights have been violated under Title VII or the NJLAD.

What Is Religious Discrimination?

If an employer treats a job applicant or an employee unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs, that is religious discrimination. Both Title VII and the NJLAD protect people in organized religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. In addition, these laws protect others who have “sincerely held” religious, moral, or ethical beliefs. Atheists and agnostics receive protection from discrimination as well. It is also religious discrimination to treat someone differently because that person is associated with or married to someone of a particular religion.

Title VII & NJLAD Compliance

To comply with the laws in New Jersey that prohibit religious discrimination, employers may not do any of the following:

  • Refuse to hire, recruit, or promote somebody because of their religious beliefs.
  • Ask job applicants about their future abilities at certain times.
  • Exclude a job applicant from consideration for hire if their name may be associated with a particular religion.
  • Impose stricter requirements for promotion due to someone’s religion.
  • Give someone more or different work requirements because of their religion.
  • Schedule interviews or examinations in conflict with a current or prospective employee’s religious needs.
  • Terminate an employee due to their religious beliefs, or because they requested a reasonable accommodation for their religious beliefs.
  • Fail to address frequent, severe, or pervasive offensive actions and remarks toward an employee’s religious beliefs.

There are some exceptions to the general rule. In some instances, religious organizations may discriminate against employees who do not conform to their beliefs. Many of the cases involving religious organizations require extra scrutiny. If you are unsure if your employer or potential employer did not hire or promote you due to your religious beliefs, or if it has failed to provide you with an accommodation of your religious needs,  it is best to speak to an employment law attorney.

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Reasonable Accommodation of Your Religious Needs

What Is a Sincerely Held Belief?

Employers must accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs if they are “sincerely held.” While the sincerity of an employee’s beliefs is not usually questioned, the employee’s willingness to face termination due to their beliefs is not necessarily sufficient to prove sincerity, a point that was driven home during the COVID pandemic.

Ultimately, the courts evaluate the issue of “sincerely held” beliefs on a case-by-case basis. If you asked your employer for an accommodation based on a sincerely held belief and were denied it, or retaliated against, you should speak to a religious discrimination attorney.

How Do I Request Accommodation for My Religious Beliefs at My Workplace?

You can ask your manager or boss to meet with you, or you can go directly to Human Resources. You will need to explain why your religious needs require some accommodation from your employer. It is possible that your employer may not be familiar with your church or religion. Be prepared to explain what your beliefs are and how changing certain workplace rules would allow you to practice your beliefs and why you believe your request can be accommodated. Your boss or manager may then ask you questions about your beliefs and how exactly they conflict with work requirements.

You should be prepared to suggest the accommodations you are requesting. If you wish to not work on the Sabbath, you can offer to work on different days of the week. If you need to pray at a certain time, you can ask for a break at a specific time so you can pray. Your employer does not need to grant you the exact accommodation you asked for. However, he or she must try to find a solution that will work since you are legally entitled to accommodation unless your employer can show it would cause them or your fellow employees an undue hardship.

What Is a Reasonable Accommodation for Religious Beliefs?

A reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs is an adjustment an employer makes for an employee that will not cause the employer “undue hardship.”

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Flexible scheduling, including days off;
  • Breaks needed for prayer;
  • Job reassignments; or
  • Modifications to workplace policies or procedures.

The employer’s reasonable accommodation must not discriminate against or disadvantage the employee. The degree to which an accommodation is considered reasonable is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If there are several reasonable accommodations available, an employer does not have to choose the one that the employee prefers. They may select whichever reasonable accommodation best suits their interests.

Speak with Our New Jersey Religious Discrimination Attorneys Today

The law constantly evolves with respect to civil liberties and civil rights. Religious discrimination continues to be a complex aspect of employment law. Do not let this intimidate you. The religious discrimination attorneys at Schall and Barasch LLC have decades of experience in representing employees in discrimination cases and are equipped to advise you on your next steps, advocate for you, and if needed, litigate for you.

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