It is illegal under both federal and California law for an employer to discriminate against an employee or a potential employee on the basis of that person’s religious beliefs or practices. Employers must also take the necessary steps to prevent religious harassment and hostile work environments based on religious beliefs, practices, lack of religious beliefs, or dress. For example a religious employee should not be harassed for wearing a head covering.
Many religious discrimination cases are based on the failure of an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practices. However some cases involve more direct discrimination, such as firing an employee for their religious beliefs.
To establish a case of religious discrimination, an employee must show that: (1) he or she sincerely held a religious belief (2) the employer knew about the belief; (3) belief conflicted with an employment requirement; and (4) the employer took adverse employment action against the employee. Adverse employment actions include, but are not limited to, termination, reduction in working hours, and demotion in pay or title.
WHAT IS A RELIGIOUS BELIEF?
The law protects people of all faiths: Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and all other religious belief systems. California law defines a religious creed as any traditionally recognized religion, as well as any sincere beliefs, observances, or practices that are of similar importance in a person’s life. Just because an employee does not practice a “traditional” religion California law protects them. The courts have set the following standard to determine whether a belief is a protected religious belief: (1) it must address fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters; (2) it must be comprehensive and not consist of an isolated teaching; and (3) it must have formal, external, or surface signs that can be analogized to traditional religions, such as services, ceremonies, clergy, etc.
REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION OF RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), as well as federal law, prohibit employment discrimination because of a conflict between an employee’s religious belief or observance and any job requirement, unless the employer has tried to make reasonable accommodations. For example, reasonable accommodations would include excusing the employee from duties that conflict with religious observances, such as not scheduling the employee for work on the day the employee observes his or her religion, allowing breaks for daily prayer, etc.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ATTORNEYS
Tumber Law Firm is based in San Francisco, California. Our attorneys represent clients in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Solano, Marin, and Sonoma Counties. Tumber Law Firm protects clients from harassment based on religion, age, race, sex, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications; retaliation, discrimination, denial of accommodation for disability or religious practices, and termination based on animus towards a religion or religious practice. Additionally we represent employees if they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage, or those not given the proper meal and rest breaks. If you believe that your rights have been violated, CONTACT US to setup your free consultation to discuss this matter. We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney fees unless we win your case.