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Understanding religious discrimination

Workers in New York are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from religious discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, employers are prohibited from engaging in any discriminatory behavior during the hiring or termination processes and setting conditions and terms of employment based on an individual's religion.

Current and potential employees are also entitled to be provided reasonable accommodations for their religious practices as long as doing so does not present an undue hardship on the employer. Reasonable accommodations include any alteration of the work environment, including reassignments of jobs, flexible scheduling and lateral transfers that allow employees to practice their religion.

Employers should avoid the practice of scheduling activities like examinations at times that will conflict with the religious needs of a prospective or existing employee. Also, unless not conducting the following actions would result in an undue hardship, employers should avoid instituting a restrictive dress policy, denying permission to observe a religious holiday or asking job candidates about their availability in the future.

There are circumstances in which employers are justified in claiming undue hardship when a religious accommodation request is submitted. This include situations in which providing the accommodations entails administrative costs that are higher than usual, the efficiency of other jobs would be reduced or the workplace rights and benefits of other employees would be negatively impacted. Undue hardship may also be claimed if the accommodation violates an existing law or the provision of a collective bargaining agreement.

Victims of employment discrimination should speak with an employment law attorney about the legal avenues that may be pursued. The attorney may advise filing charges with the appropriate federal agency based on the type of the discrimination. Lawsuits may be filed for violations of the ADA or FMLA that resulted in harassment or loss of wages.

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The Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Goldman
501 Fifth Avenue
Suite 1900
New York, NY 10017

Phone: 646-835-2063
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