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How do I know if I am facing religious discrimination at work?

People in Iowa and nationwide should be able to apply for jobs and work without fear of discrimination based on any reason, especially their religion. Unfortunately, in today's world, there remains an issue with people facing religious discrimination. Not only does this violate the law and employee rights, but it is a negative mark on society that it continues to take place. However, those who have been confronted with this type of treatment may have legal recourse.

It is vital to understand exactly how religious discrimination is defined under the law. The failure to treat a person who is applying for a job or is already employed fairly because of their religious beliefs is religious discrimination. This applies to organized religions as well as those with religious, moral and ethical beliefs. It can also apply to a person who is married to someone of a specific religion. With hiring, firing, disciplining, promoting, giving assignments and any other aspect of employment, discrimination can occur and is against the law.

People cannot be harassed because of their religion. That will include remarks that are deemed offensive. This can be a difficult matter to understand. If, for example, it is teasing that is considered harmless or an isolated incident and it is not serious, it might not be sufficient to constitute harassment. It must be bad enough that the work environment is considered hostile or offensive and negatively affects the person's position in the job. The harasser can be anyone, even clients and customers. Workers cannot be segregated because of their religion.

Employers must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs, provided it is not overly burdensome on the employer. Changing shifts, having a flexible schedule and other adjustments must be made. This also applies to manner of dress. If it is not an undue hardship on the employer for the worker to dress in a way that is appropriate based on the religion, it must be allowed. An example is head scarves or the requirement to have a beard or long hair.

People who believe they are being discriminated against on the job may be able to seek compensation in a legal filing. Understanding exactly what constitutes religious discrimination is the first step toward pursuing a case. A lawyer who understands all aspects of workplace discrimination can be of assistance in deciding whether to move forward with a lawsuit.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Religious Discrimination," accessed on Jan. 16, 2018

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