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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Facts About Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion (or lack of religious belief) in hiring, firing, or any other terms and conditions of employment. The law also prohibits job segregation based on religion, such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.

In addition, the Act  requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of applicants and  employees,  unless  doing so would  cause more than a minimal burden on the operation of the employer's business.A reasonable religious accommodation is any adjustment to the work environment that will allow the employee to practice his religion. Flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments  lateral transfers, and exceptions to dress or grooming rules are examples of accommodating an employee's religious beliefs.

Whether a particular accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer's business depends on the individual circumstances.  For example, an accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work. . Undue hardship also may be shown if the request for an accommodation violates others' job rights established through a collective bargaining agreement or seniority system.

Title VII also prohibits religious harassment of employees, such as offensive remarks about a person's religious beliefs or practices.  Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren't very serious, harassment can be unlawful when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on religion or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

For more information, see Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace at http://eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_religion.html and Best Practices for Eradicating Religious Discrimination in the Workplace at http://eeoc.gov/policy/docs/best_practices_religion.html.