Religious Discrimination

For many people, their religious believes occupy an extremely special place in their heart and in their life; it can be part of their identity. Because of this, religious discrimination in the workplace can place people in a position of choosing between their god and their paycheck. Though religious discrimination laws do not apply to all employers, and they do apply to many.

What laws prohibit religious discrimination?

Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 and the Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21 prohibit discrimination in the workplace because of someone's religious beliefs. However, there remains broad exemptions from the law prohibiting religious discrimination for religious and religiously affiliated organizations.

Which employers are exempt from religious discrimination laws?

Religious discrimination laws contain a "ministerial exception" for organizations involved and related to release activities. In other words, the law has to balance the interests of an individual’s right to practice their own religion, and religious organizations being able to employ individuals who conform with that religions beliefs.

For example, it would be highly unlikely that a Protestant individual could claim religious discrimination against the Catholic Church for refusing to hire him/her as a priest because that individual is not Catholic. And, the Catholic Church has a right to hire priests who are Catholic.

What is protected?

The following are examples of protected activities under Title VII’s and the Texas Labor Code’s prohibition on religious discrimination:

  • Religious Beliefs
    • An employer may not treat an employee differently or negatively because he or she holds a sincere religious believe or the lack thereof.
  • Religious Practices
    • Religious practices can take many forms such as growing a beard, we're going eating pork, were attending services. However, employers may not discriminate against employees because of their religious practices.
  • Ministerial Duties
    • Ministerial duties often concerned serving in in a religious capacity such as being a minister, teaching Bible study, for attendance at church meetings.

Can I get an accommodation for my religious beliefs?

Yes, an employer must accommodate and employees religious observances and practices unless the accommodation would result in an undue hardship. There are many factors that go into determining whether an accommodation impose is an undue hardship on the employer. If you think that you need a religious accommodation and your employer is unwilling, contact me your Texas employment lawyer.

Consult with a religious discrimination attorney

Contact me your Texas employment lawyer if you think that you have been subjected to religious discrimination. The timeframe for claiming religious discrimination is short. For non-federal employees, the deadline may be 180 to 300 days. For federal workers, your deadline is 45 days.