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Religious discrimination in the workplace is illegal

An employer's discrimination against people of other religions in hiring, treatment, discipline or firing is illegal and can land the employer in trouble. However, the law of religious discrimination does have some important legal contours that Californians need to understand.

It is not just traditional and particularly large religious groups that are protected. Anyone with sincerely held religious or moral beliefs is protected. Someone cannot be hired, fired or otherwise unfavorable treated because of his or her core beliefs.

Moreover, an employer must protect employees against a hostile work environment. Although an employer is not expected to prevent all instances of religious bigotry or rudeness, if a workplace gets so hostile to someone of a particular creed, then the employer can be held accountable, should the employee be forced to leave for his or her own protection.

An employer also must offer a "reasonable accommodation" to an employee with religious practices. But, a "reasonable accommodation" does not amount to giving an employee whatever he or she wants, so long as there is a religious reason behind the request. If the accommodation causes more than what the law refers to as a "minimal burden" on the employer, the employer has no obligation to grant it.

An employer's right to make rules and have policies that serve the employer's business needs, save money or protect workers will remain undistributed. Furthermore, an employer cannot grant an accommodation that would result in the violation of the workplace rights of other employees. Even though the right is not absolute, workers in San Diego who have strong religious and moral beliefs do have the right to be protected from workplace discrimination based on their religion.