Discrimination in the Workplace Based on Religion
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer to either:
(1) discriminate on the basis of an individual's religious beliefs, observance, or practice, or
(2) fail to reasonably accommodate an individual's religious beliefs, unless such accommodation would cause undue hardship on the employer's business.
What is a religious accommodation?
An employee can prevail on an accommodation claim if the employee’s need for accommodation was a motivating factor in the employment decision. An employer does not have to have actual knowledge of the employee’s religious status. Neutral policies, such as dress codes, can still violate Title VII if the employer does not provide reasonable accommodations for religious reasons.
Exception for Religious Organizations
Religious institutions have a “ministerial exception,” to the general protections under Title VII. This exception is grounded in the First Amendment and precludes the application of Title VII to all employment decisions made by religious institutions regarding its ministers.
The Missouri Human Rights Act
Similar to federal law, Missouri law also prohibits discrimination because of religion. The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) expressly prohibits employers from discriminating because of religion with respect to the terms and conditions of employment. State regulations adopt analogous federal case law and require “reasonable accommodation” to the religious practices of applicants and employees.
The Illinois Human Rights Act
The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination because of a person’s religion. The IHRA’s definition of “religion” is the same as that found in Title VII. Additionally, Illinois has adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which provides that the state or a local government may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.
Contact Davis & Gras, LLC
If you have been subjected to religious discrimination at work, call us today at 314-888-5858.