Have you experienced discrimination or harassment at work because of your religion? The law protects workers from adverse employment decisions and hostile work environments due to their religious beliefs, and you could be entitled to legal relief and financial recovery for the harm you have suffered. Turn to a Tallahassee religious discrimination lawyer from Cruz Law Firm, P.A., for help asserting your rights and demanding accountability from your employer.
With nearly two decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys have handled a wide range of challenging employment discrimination cases, taking over 100 lawsuits to trial in state and federal courts. We know how devastating the consequences of religious discrimination in the workplace can be, which is why we are committed to championing those who have been the victims of it. When you choose us to help with your religious discrimination case, you will have committed and aggressive advocates in your corner, fighting hard to protect your guaranteed rights and freedoms.
Reach out to Cruz Law for an initial case review with a Tallahassee religious discrimination attorney, during which we can discuss your claim for financial compensation and other legal relief for discrimination or harassment. We are ready to fight for the justice and accountability you deserve from your employer.
What Is Religious Discrimination?
Religious discrimination occurs when a worker or job candidate is treated unfairly because of their religious beliefs. Religious beliefs include beliefs in organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism, and other sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs, including agnosticism or atheism. Religious discrimination can also occur when a worker or job candidate is treated unfairly because they are married to or associated with someone with particular religious beliefs.
Additionally, religious discrimination can include harassment of an employee for their religious beliefs or those of someone the employee is married to or associated with. Harassment might involve behaviors such as making disparaging comments about a person’s religious beliefs.
Examples of Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
Examples of conduct or behavior that may constitute workplace religious discrimination include:
- Making adverse employment decisions against employees or job candidates, including decisions involving hiring, promotion, pay and benefits, firing, training, or work assignments
- Asking candidates or employees about their religious beliefs
- Not permitting employees to wear headwear, clothing, hairstyles, facial hair, or religious iconography prescribed by their religious beliefs
- Requiring employees to wear uniforms that violate their religious beliefs
- Refusing reasonable accommodations of an employee’s religious beliefs, such as flexible scheduling, voluntary shift swaps, or breaks to pray, so long as the accommodations do not cause more than a minimal burden on the employer’s operations
- Requiring employees to participate in religious traditions
- Offensive, derogatory, or demeaning comments or actions about an employee’s religious beliefs or certain religions
- Threats of retaliation or physical violence against an employee due to their religious beliefs
What Law or Laws Protect Employees from Religious Discrimination in Florida?
Various state and federal laws protect workers and job candidates from employment-related religious discrimination in Florida. These include:
- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – The First Amendment prohibits the government from making laws or regulations prohibiting the free exercise of religious beliefs, precluding government employers from discriminating based on religious beliefs.
- The Religious Freedom Restoration Act – This law prohibits the federal government and federal agencies from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religious beliefs.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) – This prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees and job candidates for their religious beliefs.
- The Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) – The FCRA serves as the state law analog to the federal Civil Rights Act, prohibiting religious discrimination.
Do Religious Discrimination Laws Have Exceptions?
Under Title VII, certain employers have an exception from the blanket prohibition on religious discrimination. These exemptions include:
- Religious Organizations – Defined as a “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society,” including religious schools, colleges, universities, and institutes of learning. These organizations may specifically employ people of a particular organized religion or religious beliefs. The exemption includes other jobs of a religious employer not focused on the employer’s religious activities.
- Ministerial Exception – Permits religious employers to employ workers who subscribe to the organization’s religious tenets in “certain key roles” of the organization. The exception prevents governmental intrusion into a religious institution’s ability to decide matters of faith and doctrine.
What Is Considered a Reasonable Religious Accommodation?
Title VII requires employers to provide accommodations that allow workers to follow the tenets of their religious beliefs while at work. Employers should provide reasonable accommodations if they do not cause more than a minimal burden to the employer’s operations. Religious accommodations that an employee might request include:
- Not being assigned for work shifts on their religious holidays or being permitted to swap shifts
- Being permitted to take breaks and have a private space in the workplace for prayer
- Flexible scheduling to attend religious services before or after work
- Being permitted to wear headwear, clothing, hairstyles or facial hair, or iconography required by the worker’s religious beliefs
How to Prove Religious Discrimination
Employers prohibited from discriminating on the basis of religion rarely admit to taking employment actions against a worker or job candidate due to their religious beliefs. To prove that you experienced religious discrimination or harassment, you will likely need to rely on indirect evidence, such as:
- Employment records, including your employment agreements, performance reviews, HR policies, or employee handbooks
- Witness testimony
- Records of your employer’s hiring, pay, firing, and job assignment decisions
- Emails, text messages, social media posts, or internal messaging system posts
- Recordings or notes of phone calls or in-person conversations
This evidence may collectively support an inference of discrimination by your employer in an adverse employment decision against you. Your employer might provide evidence that the decision was made for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason — effectively a smokescreen for the discrimination. However, you can dispute your employer’s explanation with additional evidence showing that the reason was a pretext for religious discrimination. This may include:
- Close timing between you revealing your religious beliefs or your request for religious accommodation and the adverse employment action taken against you
- Your employer’s pattern or practice of taking adverse employment action against workers holding certain religious beliefs
- Offensive or demeaning comments made in context with the adverse employment action
Types of Damages in a Religious Discrimination Lawsuit
You may be entitled to recover financial compensation or other legal relief for religious discrimination or harassment you experienced at work by filing a lawsuit against your employer. Damages awarded in religious discrimination lawsuits can include:
- Back pay and benefits you lost if you were denied hiring, promotion, or job opportunities or were wrongfully terminated
- Front pay and benefits you will lose due to the loss of your job or career advancement opportunities
- Emotional distress caused by religious discrimination or harassment
- Injunctive relief, such as court orders reinstating you or requiring your employer to provide religious accommodations
- Punitive damages to punish your employer for intentional discrimination or harassment
How Long Do I Have to File a Religious Discrimination Claim?
A religious discrimination claim under Title VII must be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the alleged discrimination or 300 days if the discriminatory acts are also prohibited by state or local law. After investigating your discrimination claim, the EEOC may issue you a notice of right-to-sue, which permits you to file a lawsuit in federal court. You must file your lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the notice of right-to-sue from the EEOC.
A religious discrimination claim under Title VII or the FCRA must be filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) within 365 days of the alleged discrimination.
The timeline for these actions is tight, and the sooner you bring your case to an attorney, the more aggressively they can pursue legal relief on your behalf.
How a Tallahassee Employment Lawyer Can Help in a Religious Discrimination Case
When you need aggressive legal representation to fight for compensation and legal relief for the religious discrimination you have suffered at work, turn to a Tallahassee employment lawyer from Cruz Law who can help you by:
- Investigating the facts and circumstances of your case to obtain evidence of discrimination or harassment you suffered at work
- Discussing your legal options and preparing you for what to expect in your case
- Documenting the losses you suffered because of the adverse employment decisions
- Filing charges of discrimination on your behalf with the EEOC or FCHR
- Taking your claims to trial, if necessary, to seek the compensation and fair treatment you deserve from your employer
Contact Our Tallahassee Religious Employment Discrimination Law Firm Today
Have you suffered adverse career and personal consequences because of religious discrimination in the workplace? Then don’t wait to pursue the recovery and justice you deserve.
Our attorneys serve Florida workers in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and the Florida Panhandle. Contact Cruz Law today for a confidential consultation with an experienced Tallahassee religious discrimination lawyer with our firm.