Religious Discrimination Attorneys for Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties

What Constitutes Workplace Religious Discrimination in California?

In the context of the workplace, religious discrimination can involve the differential treatment of employees or applicants based on their religion. It is illegal under both federal and California law for employers to discriminate against individuals due to their religious beliefs or practices. This includes discrimination in hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, and other employment decisions.

Which Laws Prohibit Religious Discrimination in California Workplaces?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against or harassing an applicant or employee because of their religion. This law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. Similarly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law, applies to California as well and makes it illegal for businesses to discriminate against employees based on their religious beliefs or practices.

What are Reasonable Accommodations for Employees?

A reasonable accommodation is one that eliminates the conflict between the religious practice and the job requirement and may include, but is not limited to, job restructuring, job reassignment, modification of work practices, or allowing time off in an amount equal to the amount of non-regularly scheduled time the employee has worked in order to avoid a conflict with his or her religious observances.  Here are some examples:

Flexible Scheduling: Altering work schedules to allow employees to observe religious holidays.

Job Reassignments or Lateral Transfers: If an employee’s religious beliefs prohibit them from performing certain aspects of their job, they might be transferred to a different position that does not conflict with their beliefs.

Modifications to Workplace Policies or Practices: This could include exceptions to dress codes or grooming policies to accommodate religious clothing, hairstyles, or facial hair.

However, it’s important to note that employers are not required to make accommodations that would cause them “undue hardship.” This could mean significant expense relative to the size of the company, disruptions of other employees’ rights or benefits, compromising workplace safety, or infringing on the rights of other employees or customers.

Why do Some Employers Discriminate on the basis of Religion?

Employers may discriminate against religious employees for various reasons, often stemming from misconceptions, personal biases, or lack of understanding. Here are some common reasons:

Lack of Understanding: Employers may not fully understand an employee’s religious beliefs and practices, leading to misunderstandings and potential discrimination.

Stereotyping and Bias: Employers may hold stereotypes or biases about certain religions, leading to discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.

Fear of Disruption: Some employers might fear that accommodating religious practices could disrupt the workplace or negatively impact the business’s operations.

Fear of Alienating Other Employees or Customers: Employers may worry that visible religious practices (such as wearing religious attire) might make other employees or customers uncomfortable.

Cost Concerns: There might be concerns about the cost of providing reasonable accommodations for religious practices.

Resistance to Change: Established company cultures and norms can sometimes resist change, including accommodating different religious practices.

Compassionate Representation You Can Count on in Southern California

Legal representation is crucial when dealing with cases of religious discrimination for several reasons:

Expertise and Understanding: Lawyers specializing in employment law or specifically in religious discrimination have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding this issue. They are equipped to navigate these complex laws effectively.

Building a Strong Case: Experienced lawyers can help gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong case to prove religious discrimination.

Negotiating Settlements: If the case does not go to court, an attorney can negotiate a settlement on your behalf, ensuring that you receive fair compensation for any damages suffered.

Representing in Court: If the case goes to trial, having a lawyer to represent you can make the process less stressful and increase the chances of a favorable outcome.

Understanding Litigation Strategy and Defense Tactics: Experienced lawyers are familiar with tactics employers might use to defend against a discrimination claim and know how to counter them.

Protecting Your Rights: Lastly, and most importantly, a lawyer will protect your rights throughout the process and ensure that you are treated in accordance with the law.

While it is possible to file a complaint of religious discrimination on your own, having legal representation can significantly improve your chances of success and ensure that your rights are protected. Consult with our employment law attorneys to discuss your situation. We serve clients across Southern California, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura. We offer a complimentary case evaluation, and an experienced lawyer will provide your case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, and San Bernardino

I go to church on Sunday mornings and lately my manager has been demanding that I cover the Sunday morning shift. Do I have any rights? 

Yes. Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on religion and require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for their employees’ religious beliefs that are associated with traditional religions, as well as religious observances and practices.

My manager is always making jokes and comments about my religion, which I find offensive. Do I have any rights?

Yes, much like with other forms of harassment, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it unlawful for your employer or supervisor to harass you based on your religion. If the comments are frequent and severe, then your manager and employer may have engaged in unlawful religious discrimination.

My boss wants me to work on Sabbath, do I have any rights?

Yes. Employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for their employees’ religious beliefs that are associated with traditional religions, as well as religious observances and practices. In particular, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act specifically protects observance of a Sabbath or other religious holy day or days, as well as reasonable time necessary for travel before and after a religious observance.

While I was working for my employer, I converted my religion and requested to be off on Sundays for religious reasons, but my employer refused. Do I have any rights? 

Yes. Generally, your request for a day off for religious services or observation is a “reasonable accommodation” which your employer should provide, unless it can show that it would pose an “undue burden” on its business operations. Of course, every situation is different, so schedule a complimentary case evaluation with our religious discrimination attorneys to discuss your case.

Every day at 2 p.m., my boss forces everyone at work to stand together, hold hands and pray. I have told her that I do not want to participate, but she makes me do it anyway; do I have any rights?

Generally, it is unlawful harassment to force an employee to follow an employer’s religious beliefs. If your employer’s actions are causing you to experience a “hostile work environment,” then you may have a claim for harassment.

The company I work for does not permit me to wear a headscarf, which I wear for my religious beliefs, because it claims that doing so would violate the company’s dress code. Do I have any rights? 

Yes. Generally, employers are required to provide accommodations, including permitting religious dress practice (such as wearing or carrying religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, artifacts, and any other item) that is part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.

I quit my job because my supervisor would often make derogatory comments about my religion and would give me the hardest assignments to perform, while he gave the easier assignments to others. Do I have any rights? 

Yes, under these circumstances, by engaging in continuous religious creed discrimination and harassment, your employer may have forced you to constructively discharge. The employment law attorneys at Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. can discuss your situation with you during a complimentary case evaluation.

Featured California Regulations Pertaining to Religious Discrimination and Accommodation

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11059

(a) Statutory Source. These regulations concerning religious discrimination are adopted by the Council pursuant to section 12940 of the Government Code.

(b) Statement of Purpose. The freedom to worship as one believes is a basic human right. To that end, the accommodation of religious pluralism is an important and necessary part of our society. Questions of religious discrimination and accommodation to the varied religious practices of the people of the State of California often arise in complex and emotionally charged situations; therefore, each case must be reviewed on an individual basis to best balance often contradictory social needs.

(c) Incorporation of General Regulations. These regulations incorporate all of the provisions of Articles 1 and 2 of Subchapter 2, unless specifically excluded or modified.

(d) The Act’s prohibition against religious discrimination and duty to provide reasonable accommodations for religious observances and dress and grooming practices applies to individuals serving in apprenticeship programs, unpaid internships, and any other program to provide unpaid experience for a person in the workplace or industry, in addition to employees, applicants, and others covered by section 12940(l) of the Act.

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11062

An employer or other covered entity shall make accommodation to the known religious creed of an applicant or employee unless the employer or other covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation is unreasonable because it would impose an undue hardship. Refusing to hire an applicant or terminating an employee in order to avoid the need to accommodate a religious practice constitutes religious creed discrimination.

(a) A reasonable accommodation is one that eliminates the conflict between the religious practice and the job requirement and may include, but is not limited to, job restructuring, job reassignment, modification of work practices, or allowing time off in an amount equal to the amount of non-regularly scheduled time the employee has worked in order to avoid a conflict with his or her religious observances. Unless expressly requested by an employee, an accommodation is not reasonable if it requires segregation of an employee from customers or the general public.

(b) In determining whether a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operations of an employer or other covered entity, factors to be considered include, but are not limited to:

(1) The size of the relevant establishment or facility with respect to the number of employees, the size of budget, and other such matters;

(2) The overall size of the employer or other covered entity with respect to the number of employees, number and type of facilities, and size of budget;

(3) The type of the establishment’s or facility’s operation, including the composition and structure of the workforce or membership;

(4) The type of the employer’s or other covered entity’s operation, including the composition and structure of the workforce or membership;

(5) The nature and cost of the accommodation involved;

(6) Reasonable notice to the employer or other covered entity of the need for accommodation; and

(7) Any available reasonable alternative means of accommodation.

(c) Reasonable accommodation includes, but is not limited to, the following specific employment policies or practices:

(1) Interview and examination times. Scheduled times for interviews, examinations, and other functions related to employment opportunities shall reasonably accommodate religious practices.

(2) Dress and Grooming Standards.

Dress and grooming standards or requirements for personal appearance shall take into account “religious dress and grooming practices,” as defined in Government Code section 12926.

(3) Union Dues. An employer or union shall not require membership from any employee or applicant whose religious creed prohibits such membership. An applicant’s or employee’s religious creed shall be reasonably accommodated with respect to union dues.

(d) It is unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against a person for requesting reasonable accommodation based on religion, regardless of whether the employer granted the request.

Contact Us When You Need an Employment Law Attorney for Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura.

Call us today at (818) 509-9975 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. We have extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, including religious discrimination cases.

Areas Served

The litigation and trial attorneys of the Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. provide services throughout Southern California including but not limited to AdelantoAgoura HillsAlhambraAliso ViejoAltadenaAnaheimApple ValleyArcadiaArletaAtwater VillageAzuzaBakersfieldBaldwin ParkBanningBeaumontBellBell GardensBellflowerBeverly HillsBlytheBoyle HeightsBreaBrentwoodBuena ParkBurbankCalabasasCalimesaCamarilloCanoga ParkCanyon LakeCarsonCathedral CityCerritosChatsworthChino HillsChinoClaremontCoachellaColtonComptonCosta MesaCoronaCovinaCulver CityCypressDana PointDesert Hot SpringsDiamond BarDowneyDuarteEagle RockEast HollywoodEast Los AngelesEastvaleEcho ParkEl MonteEl SegundoEl SerenoEncinoFontanaFountain ValleyFullertonGardenaGarden GroveGlassell ParkGlendaleGlendoraGranada HillsHacienda HeightsHawthorneHemetHesperiaHighland ParkHighlandHollywoodHollywood HillsHuntington BeachHuntington ParkIndian WellsIndioInglewoodIrvineJurupa ValleyLa Canada FlintridgeLa-Crescenta MontroseLa HabraLa MiradaLa PalmaLa PuenteLa QuintaLa VerneLaguna BeachLaguna HillsLaguna NiguelLaguna WoodsLakewoodLake BalboaLake ElsinoreLake ForestLancasterLawndaleLincoln HeightsLoma LindaLong BeachLos AlamitosLos AngelesLos FelizLynwoodManhattan BeachMar VistaMaywoodMenifeeMission HillsMission ViejoMonroviaMontclairMontebelloMonterey ParkMoorparkMoreno ValleyMurrietaNewbury ParkNewhallNewport BeachNorcoNorth HillsNorth HollywoodNorthridgeNorwalkOntarioOrangeOxnardPacific PalisadesPacoimaPalos VerdesPalmdalePalm DesertPalm SpringsPanorama CityParamountPasadenaPerrisPico RiveraPlacentiaPomonaPorter RanchRancho CucamongaRancho MirageRancho Santa MargaritaRedondo BeachResedaRialtoRiversideRosemeadRowland HeightsSan BernardinoSan ClementeSan DimasSan GabrielSan FernandoSan JacintoSan Juan CapistranoSan PedroSanta AnaSanta ClaritaSanta MonicaSawtelleSeal BeachShadow HillsSherman OaksSilver LakeSimi ValleySouth El MonteSouth GateSouth PasadenaSouth WhittierStantonStudio CitySun ValleySunlandSylmarTarzanaTemeculaTemple CityThousand OaksToluca LakeTorranceTujungaTustinTwentynine PalmsUplandValenciaValley GlenValley VillageVan NuysVenturaVictorvilleWalnutWest CovinaWest HillsWest HollywoodWest Puente ValleyWestchesterWestminsterWestwoodWhittierWildomarWinnetkaWoodland HillsYorba Linda