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Understanding religious discrimination at work

Employers in California and throughout the country are barred from discriminating against employees on religious grounds. This protection is afforded to workers by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers are generally required to accommodate an employee's religious practices or beliefs unless doing so would create an undue hardship. Examples of accommodations include a flexible work schedule or allowing a worker to transfer elsewhere within the company.

An undue hardship may occur if making an accommodation for one worker hinders others from doing their job. If an employer cannot make an accommodation for safety or legal reasons, an employee may not be entitled to it. Those who are forbidden to pay union dues because of religious objections may instead contribute the amount of their dues to a charity.

Employers should make sure that they don't schedule important activities on a day or time in which an employee may be away for religious reasons. For instance, employers should schedule exams or other activities that may play a role in determining who gets a promotion when all employees are available to take it. Furthermore, employers should avoid retaliating against employees who may file claims under Title VII.

If a worker faces religious discrimination at work, he or she may be entitled to compensation or reinstatement to a former position. Discrimination may take place if a person is terminated or denied a promotion based on a sincerely held religious belief or because of an affiliation with a religious sect. An attorney may use employment records or other evidence to show that a worker was not given reasonable accommodations as required by federal law.

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