Religious Discrimination

Federal law prohibits most employers from treating employees differently because of their religion. Religion is defined broadly to include spiritual or religious beliefs that are not associated with any organized church, and can include atheist or agnostic beliefs. In New York, state and city laws provide protection from discrimination based on religion as well.

Employers are prohibited from refusing to hire an applicant because of his or her religious beliefs or treat religious individuals differently than other employees with respect to assignments, discipline, promotions, pay, or benefits because of their religion.

Employers have a duty to stop religious harassment in the workplace. Employers may also be required to accommodate the religious observances of an employee who makes a reasonable request, which may include work schedule changes, exceptions to the dress code, or allowing private religious expressions in one’s work area, such as prayer. Accommodations that are too burdensome or that infringe on other employees’ rights are generally not considered reasonable.