Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Religious discrimination can take place in the workplace – or even in the application stage. 

In response to widespread discrimination, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. It is a landmark civil rights and labor law that addresses the discrimination one might encounter based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This Act is applied to various aspects of life, such as women’s rights, desegregation, and a later impact on LGBTQ+ rights.

For matters of discrimination in the workplace, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 refers to and outlines unlawful employment practices. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established in response to enforce those federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. This also includes discrimination one may encounter based on the religion of their significant other.

So how can the EEOC help you?

The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers. If they find that discrimination did indeed occur, they will attempt to settle the charge. If that is unsuccessful, the EEOC has the right to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of the individual(s). 

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work, you can file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. Several factors to keep in mind:

  • You need to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit
  • The Charge of Discrimination can be completed through the EEOC Public Portal
  • You have 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place to file a charge
  • These time limits are not extended if you attempt to resolve the grievance through another avenue, such as an internal grievance procedure, a union procedure, arbitration or mediation
  • However, you can pursue these other forums at the same time as the processing of the EEOC charge
  • Many states and local jurisdictions have their own anti-discrimination laws, and Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPAs) are tasked with enforcing them at either the state or local level
  • If you file a charge with a FEPA, you do not need to file again with the EEOC – it will automatically be dual-filled
  • Federal employees and job applicants have a different complaint process and must contact an EEOC counselor within 45 days

EEOC Counselors are available to answer questions and discuss any concerns you may have. There are field offices located around the country with the closest chapter in Boston, MA.