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Different Forms of Religious Discrimination You Should Know About

Dec. 18, 2017

In Illinois, if an employer treats an employee differently based on their religious beliefs, it is considered as discrimination under their human rights act. This means that your employer cannot make any comments at work, make job decisions, or even ask about your religion, as it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the EEOC, discrimination cases based on religion have increased dramatically over the past two decades. Between 1997 and 2015, the number of claims on religious discrimination have risen by 41 percent. Religious discrimination at workplace can take many forms. If you think you are a victim of this type of discrimination but not sure about it, here are some common forms of religious discrimination to help you understand your situation:


In this type of religious discrimination, the employer makes employment decisions based on an employee’s faith, or lack of it. This may include:

  • Firing an employee if they take a day off to observe a religious event

  • Refusing to hire an employee because they are an Orthodox Jew or Seventh-Day Adventist and observe a Saturday Sabbath

  • Transferring an employee to a department where they are not allowed or required to interact with customers because they wear dreadlocks, scarf, hijab, or any other clothing

  • Giving promotion to an employee because they have the same religious beliefs as the employer; for example, an employee that attends church regularly

  • Denying an employee a raise because they discuss about their faith with other employees during lunch or any other free time

Failure to Accommodate

In some situations, an employer may be required to make decisions on the basis of an employee’s religion. While this may be in direct contradiction with Title VII guidelines, employers must accommodate their employees’ religious practices or, in other words, take into account their religion when making certain decisions.

Since religion is not a characteristic but a set of beliefs and practices, some employees may want to express their faith by carrying out certain actions. A few examples can be wearing some kind of additional clothing, not cutting their hair, donning religious items, displaying religious icons, and others. Failure to accommodate such things can be categorized as religious discrimination.


It refers to a conduct against an individual that creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating work environment for them. Harassment at workplace based on religion may include calling names or making fun of employees, ridiculing them for their choice of food, mocking for violating the dress code of the company, repeatedly trying to “preach” one’s religion with the intention to convert them, and several others.

With the recent changes in the government, discrimination based on religion has increased manifold. If you think you are being discriminated at your workplace because of your faith and beliefs, you can raise your voice and fight for your rights. Contact the Law Office of Michael T. Smith today to discuss your case with an experienced Roselle employment discrimination attorney and evaluate your legal options.