Michigan is fortunate enough to have a diverse population with residents and visitors who bring distinct backgrounds and identities to our state. Many laws protect our residents from workplace discrimination. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is one such law that deals explicitly with religious discrimination. This law also protects atheists, agnostics and other non-believers through its use of the specific language “based on religion.”
Below, we will explore some of the types of religious discrimination that can be found in the workplace. But also inquiring about an employee’s religious beliefs, expressing preferences for or against members of certain religious groups, or classifying employees because of religion.
Hiring and Promotion Practices
Treating employees differently based on real or perceived religious affiliation is against the law.
This begins with the more obvious signs of discrimination. Some of these include being fired, failure to promote, and refusing to hire someone based on their religion. The decision to disallow someone to gain or retain employment or to secure promotion is unacceptable. It is equally unacceptable to positively favor one group due to religious affiliation.
Aside from the job status cases come the circumstances of more subtle religious discrimination. These can arise in unequally distributed project opportunities, in different pay levels for equal work in an equal role, in grouping employees based on religion. It is also not permitted for employers to ask employees about their religious beliefs.
These cases can often be more difficult to prove. Creating a paper trail by documenting incidents is important for you and your attorney to build a case.
Denial of Accommodation
Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. It is against the law for an employer to fail to make reasonable accommodations for employees who wish to observe religious holidays, wear religious clothing, or observe other religious practices. An employer need not met every accommodation you request, but they do have to work with you to figure out a working solution. That being said, the employer does not need to make an accommodation that places an undue hardship on the company.
Religious discrimination in the workplace is illegal, and one should report any such incidences to the relevant authorities. If you have questions if you or someone you work with have experienced religious discrimination, contact the attorneys at Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, and Rivers today.