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Discrimination & Harassment

Religious Discrimination

The law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Religious beliefs include those required by a religion, atheism, agnosticism, as well as some other beliefs that are strongly and sincerely held by individuals.

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Religious Discrimination Details

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) forbid religious discrimination in any aspect of employment, including, hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, or other conditions of employment. It is also illegal to harass a person because of his or her religious beliefs or affiliation. For instance, offensive remarks or teasing about a person’s religious beliefs or practices, if so frequent or severe that they create a hostile or offensive working environment, may be illegal religious discrimination.

The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for the religious practices of their employees. Examples of reasonable accommodations might include changing work hours or break times, providing time off, assigning different job duties, and allowing religious dress or grooming practices. Employers do not have to make accommodations if doing so would be too difficult or costly for the business.

Normally, employers may not require employees to follow certain religious beliefs or practices, however, religious organizations, such as churches, temples, and mosques, are usually exempt from this requirement.

Examples of Potential Religious Discrimination

Potential forms of religious discrimination include:

  • You are denied a job, denied a promotion, or fired because of your religious beliefs. Your employer does not allow you to take time off to observe your day of worship or your religious holidays, even though doing so would not hurt your employer’s business.
  • Your employer denies your request to follow your religious practices while on the job, including wearing religious clothing, taking breaks to pray, or avoiding tasks that your religion prohibits, even though such a request would not cause an undue burden on the business.
  • Your boss or co-workers constantly make fun of your religious practices or treat you badly because of your religion.
  • Your employer tells you that you cannot discuss your religious beliefs with your co-workers, or your employer warns, threatens, demotes, or fires you because you discussed your beliefs on the job.
  • Your employer coerces you to abandon, alter, or adopt a religious practice as a condition of your employment.

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