As Ohio employment discrimination lawyers, We have found that some employers discriminate based on their employees’ religious beliefs. A few years ago, the EEOC provided additional information regarding employers’ obligation to accommodate their employees’ religious practices, including dress and grooming. The timing of this information came relatively soon after a Muslim man was awarded $1.1 million in a religious discrimination case in Michigan involving a man who grew a long beard as part of his sincerely held religious beliefs – link to article here.
In general, an employer must accommodate the religious beliefs of its employees and make exceptions to their dress and grooming requirements so long as accommodating the beliefs would not cause an undue burden. Furthermore, employers cannot claim customer preference as a defense like Abercrombie tried to in another high profile religious discrimination case recently – link to article here. Abercrombie had another case go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States related to its policy to forbid wearing headscarves – see here.
Employers cannot subject employees based upon their religion to disparate treatment, job segregation, workplace harassment, retaliation, and/or fail to accommodate a sincerely held religious belief (unless it would cause an undue hardship).
By coming out and publishing this information the EEOC has provided employers with a refresher of these protections which employees have long been entitled to. This recent guidance from the EEOC delineates employees’ rights to be free from discrimination in the workplace based upon their religion. A summary of the protection from discrimination based upon religion can be found here and a more detailed question and answer section can be found here.
Although the EEOC focuses on grooming and dress, this is not the only aspect of an employee’s religious beliefs in the context of their employment that must be accommodated. If you believe you are being subjected to discrimination based upon your religious beliefs, don’t hesitate to contact our Ohio religious discrimination lawyers today to discuss your rights to a discrimination free workplace.