Proving Religious Discrimination Ohio

Jan 15, 2018
By Peter Friedmann

Federal and state laws prohibit private companies, government agencies, and most nonprofit organizations from discriminating against job applicants and employees because of those people’s religious beliefs and practices. Proving religious discrimination is often difficult, however.

The Ohio religious discrimination lawyers at The Friedmann Firm share some information on this issue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) here. Learning what is needed to make a case for employment discrimination or hostile work environment based on one’s religion occurs on a case by case basis. We are always happy to speak with men and women who feel their employer or co-workers are treating them unfairly. Call us at 614.610.9755 or reach out to us online to request a confidential discussion of your concerns.


Recognize What Can Constitute Religious Discrimination

The EEOC identifies several things an organization and its management cannot do when it comes to recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and employing people. A conscientious employer in Ohio will seek input from a religious discrimination law firm in Columbus to ensure that all the proper policies and procedures are in place to avoid the following prohibited practices:

  • Refusing to consider job applicants or to promote employees just because they are of a certain religion;
  • Setting stricter promotion criteria for people of certain faiths;
  • Assigning more work or placing different work requirements on employees because they practice a particular religion;
  • Making acceptance of certain religious beliefs a requirement for employment;
  • Selecting one person for hiring or promotion because that individual shares the religious beliefs of the manager or supervisor who makes the decision;
  • Contracting with an employment agency or recruiting service to recruit candidates of only one faith;
  • Screening out applicants who have names associated with certain religious traditions or screening employees who have ethnic names and;
  • Refusing to hire or promote someone just because the individual asks for a reasonable accommodation to practice his or her religion.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects people of faith from harassment, bullying, and abuse motivated by religious discrimination. For instance, co-workers and managers are not allowed to use derogatory terms to refer to a person who holds religious beliefs. Nor can an employer suspend, demote, or fire an employee who does good work but holds a certain faith.


Understand What Constitutes a Religious Accommodation

Many religious discrimination cases involve questions of whether the employer could have or should have accommodated the employee’s religious beliefs and practices. Many factors go into deciding whether a requested or offered accommodation is reasonable. Further, safety and health laws sometimes prevent an employer from making an accommodation.

Examples of accommodations an employer might be expected to provide include the following:

  • Changing shifts to permit attending worship services
  • Allowing employees to swap shifts
  • Lateral transfers to eliminate objectionable tasks
  • Allowing beards for men, dresses for women, and head coverings for both sexes
  • Permitting use of an empty office for quiet and voluntary prayers or scripture studies

If religious clothing prevents the use of statutorily mandated safety gear, however, the employer cannot make an accommodation. Employers can also legally deny requests for religious accommodations if doing so would leave the accommodated employee unable to perform his or her job, imposes undue expenses on the employer, or interferes with other employees’ rights or duties.

Referring questions of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation to a Columbus religious discrimination law firm can prevent misunderstandings and lawsuits. Speaking with a Columbus employment lawyer could also help an employer and employee reach a mutually satisfactory compromise to the originally requested accommodation.


Know Which Organizations Do Not Have to Abide by Laws on Religious Discrimination

Churches, religious charities, and some faith-based teaching institutions and health care facilities can make sharing religious beliefs a condition of employment. Such requirements should be clearly communicated in job postings to prevent misunderstandings.


Document Suspected Discrimination or Harassment

Anyone who feels his or her employer is engaging in religious discrimination or allowing religion-based harassment in the workplace should write down as many details about the potentially illegal activities as possible.

Consulting with a religious discrimination lawyer will also help the person understand how to approach the human resources department with concerns, how to report problems to the EEOC, and, if necessary, how to file a lawsuit.