Religious Discrimination In Employment: Know The Law

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from being discriminated against or harassed because of their religious beliefs. Title VII of the act specifically prohibits employers from treating an employee unfairly due to their religious beliefs or their lack of religious belief. Every employee should familiarize themselves with employment discrimination law in case they need to safeguard their religious rights at some point. The following article offers a brief guide to religious discrimination in the workplace.


Under the law, a person is protected from discrimination or harassment due to their religious beliefs. This does not mean that an employee need to be a member of a prominent organized religion. The worker only needs to have a strongly held belief that addresses the issues religions typically focus on, such as the meaning of life and what happens at death, etc.

A critical point to keep in mind is that if a belief is strongly held for a non-religious reason, it does not fall under the protections of Title VII. For instance, an employee's confirmed political or social beliefs are not relevant to religious discrimination law.


The law requires that a worker's beliefs be sincere before Title VII regulations apply. If a worker's beliefs are judged to be insincere, then the employers are not required to accommodate them. The law judges the sincerity of someone's religious belief on a case-by-case basis. Factors used to judge the sincerity of someone claiming religious discrimination in the workplace include whether the alleged belief is consistent with their previous behavior and whether the employee is seeking a benefit for non-religious reasons.

Examples of Discrimination

Employers may not fire or otherwise penalize their workers because of the worker's religion. They may not harass the employee with offensive comments or behavior due to the worker's religious beliefs or allow other employees to do so.


Religious discrimination law charges employers with making "reasonable accommodations" for workers who need special adjustments in the workplace due to their religious beliefs. For example, if a worker needs to miss work due to a religious holiday, the employer should try to accommodate them. 

Undue Hardship

Although employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees when the workers need special consideration due to their sincerely held religious beliefs, they are exempt if the special request imposes an "undue hardship" on the employer. The law defines undue hardship as a request that has more than a minimal effect on the business.

To learn more, consult a discrimination lawyer in your area.