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Most good employers work hard to create the kind of work environments their employees can thrive in. In order to create such an environment there is a tension that must be managed. If policies and restrictions are too stringent, employee morale will decrease and productivity right along with it. On the other hand, if there are not clearly defined and well articulated standards of acceptable behavior, individual employees are susceptible to the kinds of discrimination that finds its way into many workplaces.
By now most employers and employees are well aware of the consequences of sexual harassment, race discrimination, and gender discrimination in work environments. The policies with these types of discrimination are fairly straightforward – don’t do it. One of the individual rights that may be overlooked and more complicated to manage is that of the right to free expression of religion.
Religious Discrimination At Work
Religious discrimination, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “involves treating a person unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.” However “unfavorable treatment” could be seen as a broad term that is relative to the individual and his or her situation. What are the determining factors for “unfavorable treatment”?
Title VII outlines the behaviors that are explicitly discriminatory based on religion. For example, hiring and firing decisions made based strictly on someone’s religious beliefs is clearly discrimination. Harassment because of religion is prohibited. But, again, what about that seemingly gray area where an employee exercising their rights to “freedom of religious expression”? What happens when that free religious expression encroaches on the individual rights of other employees?
Employers Rights vs. Individual Rights To Religious Expression
The law sets forth an idea called “reasonable accommodation”. The EEOC explains it this way:
“The law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden
on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.”
Reasonable accommodations for religious expression could include:
- Flexible scheduling
- Voluntary shift substitutions or swaps
- Job reassignments
- Modifications to workplace policies or practices
Protecting companies’ rights to an orderly workplace
If you have been accused of discriminatory practices based upon the limits you set for religious expression in your workplace, Goldman & Ehrlich can help. Our Chicago employment discrimination lawyers are experienced trial attorneys with vast experience defending civil rights complaints.
We have a thorough knowledge of case law as it pertains to religious discrimination. We work closely with you to develop a clear and convincing defense, negotiate reasonable solutions and, when necessary, litigate in strong defense of your rights.
Contact our Chicago religious discrimination attorneys
If you believe you’ve been subjected to religious discrimination in your workplace, or you represent a business named in a complaint, Goldman & Ehrlich can help. Call us at 312.332.6733 today or contact our Chicago office online.