What Are the Laws Regarding Religious Discrimination?
Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace is a rampant problem across the country. Victims of workplace discrimination may suffer from racial, economic, and religious prejudice at the hands of fellow co-workers, supervisors, or associates at the company. Religious discrimination, especially, can cause stress and anxiety, as it is a sensitive topic for many and may be the most important belief system they adhere to. Thankfully, there are laws in place on both federal and state levels that protect your rights as an employee and a person. At California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group, we want to make sure that you are aware of these protective acts and your rights, and that you have the ability to seek assistance and compensation in the event you suffer religious discrimination. There is a whole host of information available to be shared with you, and our clients often ask us specific questions like:
- What is a religious accommodation?
- Can I practice my religion at work?
- Does the Civil Rights Act cover religion?
- What are the differences in Federal and State Law for religious discrimination?
Religious discrimination has been clarified as illegal under federal law since the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title VII of which dictated that agencies cannot refuse to hire someone, choose to fire someone, or grant someone special treatment due to his or her religion. Further, it says that companies must grant religious accommodations to those who request them, given these hardships would not lead to undue hardships for the company.
Undue hardships can be defined as anything that causes the company to struggle to efficiently work or places it under undue stress. Thus, a loss of income through expensive accommodations may count as a hardship. Additionally, if an accommodation infringes upon the rights of another co-worker, causes the workload to be unevenly distributed among employees, compromises workplace safety, or creates a troublesome work environment, it may be rejected, repealed, or ignored.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created in order to uphold the federal decrees regarding religious discrimination. It allows you to file claims against your employer through its own system, involving a questionnaire, charge form, and right to sue letter. You should note that a religious discrimination claim against your employer is quite different from a worker’s compensation claim, and you should not expect the same kind of benefits.
In filing a discrimination claim through the EEOC, you should be aware that the statute of limitations runs out after 300 days from the date of the incident. This means that you should not hesitate in filing a claim with the EEOC, as it also has deadlines for each subsequent form it will send you, and processing the documents and all associated tasks take time. If you want to seek justice in a timely manner, make sure you file all of your claims on time.
On a state level, most have Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPA) that have their own set of laws and rules. These agencies draw from the well of the federal government and are usually slightly more specific in what they prohibit and use to judge claims. California, for instance, has its own Fair Employment and Housing Act, and has recently passed the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012. For one, it prevents employers from discriminating against you if you associate with someone of a certain religion, even if you are not a follower of that faith itself.
Notably, this Workplace Religious Freedom Act dictates more specific details for discrimination and hardships. For example, Title VII states that a religious accommodation may not be granted if it were to cause a minimal undue hardship to the company. California’s Workplace Religious Freedom Act, on the other hand, says that an accommodation must not cause substantial undue hardship or expense to the business. Even though these two phrases seem similar, they are not. To put it simply, Title VII allows employers to not grant accommodations if they would cause small issues. The California Act states that employers may only dismiss accommodations if they would cause large issues.
The statute of limitations to file a religious discrimination claim in California is one year (365 days) from the date of the incident. Though this is close to the federal limit, an extra two months is still not a lot of time, and you should not delay.
Note that you cannot file two claims to be sent to both the FEHA and the EEOC, and because of how close the statute of limitations is on both, you may not be able to send to the other in case one denies your claim.
Compensation for Victims of Religious Discrimination
Under both federal and state law, the amount and type of compensation you receive from a workplace religious discrimination lawsuit are similar.
You can recover lost wages in the event you were fired or terminated. You may be able to gain back all of the income you did not earn if you were unable to find work from the time of your release to the date of the settlement. Additionally, you may be able to recover future wages, but these are more difficult to plead for.
Further damages that you can claim include pain and suffering, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees, but it should be noted that California state law is generally fairer in doling out this compensation. For instance, under state law, there is no limit to the amount of restitution you can earn from pain and suffering or punitive damages in a religious discrimination case. However, going through federal law, there is a cap, meaning you cannot earn any money above the listed amount.
You should speak to an attorney to decide which system you should file your claim under to have the best chance at receiving the fairest settlement.
A Caring Law Firm for You
California Employment Attorneys Group is here to help you receive the highest restitution available. Our team of attorneys will aggressively fight for your rights in court, make sure all of your forms are filed on time, and tirelessly work in your name. We want you to feel safe and secure again, and we will do our best to bring you monetary compensation, reinstatement, promotions, and other damages that you deserve.
We believe in creating accepting atmospheres in all workplaces and punishing those who prevent that from happening. Call today for a free legal consultation to discuss your case and to receive more information on religious discrimination laws in California and Los Angeles County.
If you select us to represent you, we offer you a zero fee guarantee that promises you will not owe us any money unless we win your case and bring you restitution for your damages. If we can’t get you a settlement, we eat the costs ourselves and you pay no out-of-pocket expenses.
To talk to an attorney about religious discrimination laws, contact California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group today.