Complaints of religious harassment in the workplace on the rise

In the state of California, certain employee differences are protected by state and federal laws. These laws are especially enforced to ensure that every employee is treated equally in the workplace despite one’s age, race, ethnicity, sex and religious beliefs. Unfortunately, these differences may not always be respected or properly accommodated. Under certain circumstances, this may be considered a form of discrimination or harassment, which is illegal in the workplace.

As U.S. businesses continue to grow globally and more individuals are able to telecommute or travel for work, many workplaces employ thousands of individuals from a variety of diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Many organizations promote diversity in the workplace as businesses and the economy continue to grow, but diversity may not always be embraced.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Justice, next to complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace, complaints of religious harassment are one of the most problematic issues for individuals in the workplace.

Employees come from a variety of religious backgrounds that celebrate different holidays, wear different attire and worship in different ways. In some cases, this may mean that an employee may need to be treated differently in the workplace in order to have his or her religious beliefs respected.

In order to accommodate one’s religious needs, employers must make negotiations and compromises with employees of diverse religious backgrounds. However, some employers may take the liberty to make certain judgments that could affect how one’s religious needs are accommodated, and not all employers are tolerable of one’s differences. For this reason, many individuals choose to work with an employment law attorney in order to reach proper negotiations with an employer regarding how one’s religious practices should be better accommodated in the workplace.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel Co., “Religion in the workplace is an issue on the rise,” Hugh G. Willett, Oct. 24, 2011

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