Someone’s workplace should be a space of productivity, collaboration (when appropriate) and mutual respect. However, unfortunately, not everyone always enjoys a discrimination-free environment. One form of discrimination that’s particularly insidious, yet often overlooked, is religious discrimination.
Regardless of what your personal beliefs may be, it’s essential to recognize the signs of religious discrimination in the workplace so that you can address them effectively if you or a work colleague is ever unlawfully targeted as a result of religious beliefs (or a lack thereof).
Common manifestations of religious discrimination at work
Although not all forms of workplace religious discrimination are terribly easy to spot, a situation wherein an employee is treated less favorably due to their religious beliefs or practices can occur in ways that are fairly obvious. This kind of blatant mistreatment is just as unlawful as more subtle forms of discrimination, even if an employer engages in such conduct in a “loud and proud” manner.
Similarly, obvious jokes or comments targeting an individual’s religion or religious practices – as well as social exclusion based on these same protected characteristics – are discriminatory. Even though they may not be as obviously consequential as less favorable treatment by an employer, they can create a hostile work environment, which employers are bound to safeguard their workers from.
Finally, inflexibility over a worker’s need to dress a certain way or observe certain religious practices is often unlawfully discriminatory conduct. Similarly, retaliating against a worker for engaging in their legally protected right to exercise their religion is unlawful.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of religious discrimination, or if you witness such mistreatment against others, consider seeking legal guidance. Ultimately, both knowledge and proactive steps can play pivotal roles in better ensuring everyone’s right to a discrimination-free workplace.