Suing for Religious Discrimination

Disciminated Against Because of My Faith

Suing for Religious Discrimination

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:11-12

Your right to live out your faith is protected by many different laws.

First Amendment

The “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution protects every citizen’s right to freely exercise their religion – to live out their faith, without fear of adverse action or relatiation.

Federal Laws: Title VII

Your right to live out your faith is also protected by federal laws, like Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII prohibits employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating against individuals due to their religious beliefs.

Discrimination can take on many forms, including:

  • Refusing to hire
  • Refusing to interview
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodation
  • Terminating your job
  • Denying privileges or work benefits
  • Retaliation
State Laws: Workplace Religious Freedom Act under FEHA

You are also protected under state law.  In California, the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (also known as WRFA) added religion to the protections of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Per the WRFA:

“Religious creed,” “religion,” “religious observance,” “religious belief,” and “creed” include all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice, including religious dress and grooming practices. “Religious dress practice” shall be construed broadly to include the wearing or carrying of religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, artifacts, and any other item that is part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed. “Religious grooming practice” shall be construed broadly to include all forms of head, facial, and body hair that are part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.

What to Do If You Have Been Discriminated Against Based on Your Religion

Below are some steps to follow.  Remember to contact an attorney, because every discrimination case is different.

Request a Religious Accommodation

Before getting angry or threatening to file lawsuits, it may be a good idea to meet with your superior to request a religious accommodation.  Your employer is required to engage in an interactive process with you.

After You Have Been Denied

After you have asked for and been denied a religious accommodation, your employer should provide you with information on how to appeal the denial.  If they have not, request this in writing.

If the employer’s denial is final, you have the option of accepting the denial, or going further.

You Must File a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC Before Filing Federal Lawsuit

Prior to filing a lawsuit under federal law for the wrongful denial of your religious accommodation, religious discrimination or retaliation, you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), at your regional office.

Please note there are strict time limits for filing a charge.  In general, you have 180 calendar days from the date of discrimination to file a charge.

EEOC will conduct its own investigation.  If they determine discrimination has occurred, they will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer.  Or, they may decide to file their own lawsuit for you.

If the EEOC decides NOT to file a lawsuit, or it determines there is no violation of law, they will complete and close their investigation, and isse you a Right to Sue letter.

You may also request a Right to Sue letter if you don’t wish to wait for their investigation.

Upon Receipt of Right to Sue, You Have 90 Days to File a Lawsuit

Once you receive a Notice of Right to Sue, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days.

For California State Lawsuits, you Must First File With California Civil Rights Department (CRD)

Just like the federal process, California state mandates you first secure a right-to-sue .

What’s the Difference Between State and Federal Law?

This one is for your attorney.  Discrimination cases are very fact-intensive.  If you are considering suing for Religious Discrimination, please schedule a consult.

Suing for Religious Discrimination