How to proceed in the event of religious discrimination

When people in New Orleans go to work, they have certain rights under the law to exercise their religious beliefs free from harassment and religious discrimination. Although the goal is for everyone to have a safe and tolerant workplace, it doesn't always happen. In the event that there is some form of employee rights violation occurring when it comes to religious freedom, a person who is being violated has the ability to lodge a complaint. The number of people who are facing this form of discrimination has been rising in recent years leading to a greater number of complaints.

With the variety of people coming to the United States and different religions they follow, it's natural that customs might clash with certain workplace environments and what is seen as normal. There are dress codes that some jobs have that might not fit in with religious requirements; a person might not be able to work at various times of the day and days of the week; products such as alcohol could be seen as a problem if, for example, a Muslim is asked to deliver it when working as a truck driver; and security procedures could be viewed as violating a person's beliefs.

In comparison to other kinds of violations that are frequently cropping up on the job, the incidence of religious discrimination is relatively low. However, that is slowly changing. In 2011 and 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 8,000 complaints regarding this issue. Certain religions require that heads be covered, beards be worn and time be taken out to pray. This can often oppose how certain employers run their business or want their employees to dress. If a person's religious affiliation forbids him or her from working on Sunday, there could be a scheduling issue and subsequent loss of employment.

According to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, employers can't make hiring and firing decisions based on religious affiliation. Reasonable accommodations must be made for workers who need them based on their beliefs. A dispute often arises as to what is considered reasonable. When there is religious discrimination suspected, those who are subject to it need to understand their rights under the law. The first step is to gather relevant information to determine if there is a legal case or not.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Religious-Discrimination Claims on the Rise," Melanie Trottman, accessed on Sept. 9, 2014