Religious Discrimination

What constitutes religious discrimination?

Religious discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of his religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to or associated with an individual of a particular religion or because of his connection with a religious organization or group.

What are some examples of religious discrimination?

Religious discrimination can occur at any point in the employment relationship but commonly happens when outright discriminatory comments or actions are taken against an applicant or employee, or when an employer fails to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs. Below are some common examples of religious discrimination from prior cases:  

Failure to Hire:

    Company has an informal blanket policy in which any job applicant with a Jewish sounding last name was not given an interview.   A small business owner needs to hire a new sales associate and posts a job advertisement at his local Christian Church and no where else, thereby excluding all non-Christians from being hired.  

Hostile Environment:

    Video game company forces an employee who recently converted to Mormonism to endure repeated  jokes about Mormonism as well as slurs and derogatory remarks by employees and upper management.     Meatpacking firm prohibits a Muslim employee from taking prayer breaks and supervisors and co-workers harass them by uttering vulgar epithets such as "terrorist" and throwing pork bones, meat, and blood at them.  

Failure to Accomodate:

    Law firm refuses to let Muslim attorney wear a head scarf while in the office and does not accommodate her request to re-schedule her breaks so that she can pray at appropriate times even though it would not create an undue burden.   Retailer refuses Jewish employee's request to not work on Saturdays because of the Sabbath and instead tells him he must work at least one Saturday a month even though there are non-Jewish employees who could easily fill in on Saturdays.  

Should I file my complaint under state or federal law?

Religious discrimination is outlawed under both California law and federal law. However, state law is more pro-employee in many ways, includingt he following:

  Employers are strictly liable for discrimination by a supervisor whereas under federal law employers have a possible defense.
  Proving that the perpetrator of the discriminatory conduct falls within the definition of a supervisor is easier under state law.
  There is no cap on punitive or compensatory damages whereas under federal law there is a $300,000 limit for large employers.

These types of differences can make a major difference in the value of your case and so it is usually advantageous for an employee to file their religious discrimination claim under state law.

How long do I have to file my religious discrimination claim?

Two time limits apply for filing religious discrimination claims under California law. First, you must request a right to sue notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of an adverse employment action. Secondly, you must file your lawsuit in state court within one year of obtaining the right to sue notice.

For instance, if you are terminated from employment on June 1, 2013 and obtain a right to sue notice on September 15, 2013 you would then have one year (until September 15, 2014) to file your discrimination lawsuit in state court.

How can an attorney help you?

Filing a religious discrimination complaint can involve complex analysis and research into an employee's situation. Our firm is well-versed in religious discrimination cases. We will diligently analyze the pertinent facts, advise clients on their alternatives, prepare a complaint if necessary and litigate a religious discrimination case until resolution.

Remember: no recovery, no fees. We offer free confidential consultations and we only get paid if we obtain a positive recovery in your case.
We can review the facts of your case and give you an honest evaluation of any religious discrimination issue you are facing. 

Phone: 213.275.2018

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Socal Employment Counsel - Representing Employees in Workplace Disputes Throughout Southern California
Socal Employment Counsel - Representing Employees in Workplace Disputes Throughout Southern California
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