Can Employers Discriminate Based on Religion?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees and job applicants from any form of discrimination based on religion. Title VII of the Act requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee, unless it causes an “undue hardship” for the employer. This means that employers must take into account the religious beliefs and practices of applicants and employees, unless it places a more than minimal burden on the operation of the business. If the employer believes that the employee is not acting on the basis of true religious belief, but is simply trying to avoid following the rules, they can argue that the employee's request is not based on sincere religious belief.

In addition to Title VII, many states have their own laws that prohibit religious discrimination at work, which may apply to smaller employers. It is illegal for employers to promote or refuse to hire someone based on their religion. Employers must also accommodate any employee who reports that certain programs are incompatible with their religious beliefs, regardless of whether or not the employer believes there is a religious basis for the objection. Title VII prohibits employers from making decisions based on religion, but it sometimes requires them to adapt to the employee's religious beliefs or practices.

This includes not scheduling exams or other screening activities that conflict with the religious needs of the current or potential employee, not asking about future availability at certain times, maintaining a non-restrictive dress code, and allowing observance of a Saturday or religious holiday, unless it causes an undue hardship.

Cornelius Maxon
Cornelius Maxon

Freelance music geek. Wannabe web evangelist. Friendly foodaholic. Friendly beer nerd. Professional internet fan.