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Religious Discrimination

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Federal and state laws protect employees against discrimination based on their religion, which includes sincerely held moral or ethical beliefs. As a “protected class,” employees who suffer from religious discrimination may have a legal claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Illinois Human Rights Act, which provides freedom from unlawful religious discrimination. In addition to harassment and discrimination, companies are legally required to make reasonable accommodations for an individual’s religious practices. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, our Chicago religious discrimination attorneys represent employees in Illinois as they pursue legal claims of discrimination or wrongful termination. Our employment discrimination lawyers understand the fact-specific nature of religious discrimination claims, and we bring decades of combined experience to our employee advocacy.

Pursuing a Religious Discrimination Claim

Religious discrimination takes place when an employee or job applicant experiences different, negative treatment based on their religious beliefs. It is a violation of Title VII for employers to discriminate based on someone’s religion or sincerely held beliefs. Not only are traditional religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism covered by the law, but also people who claim sincere ethical or moral beliefs are protected. Additionally, the law protects individuals who associate with or are married to others of a particular religion.

In addition to refraining from discrimination, companies must “reasonably” accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and practices. Title VII makes clear that employees are entitled to practice their religion of choice, and this may include grooming needs, religious dress, and other religious practices and values. A company must provide a reasonable accommodation directed toward the employee, addressing their religious needs. At the same time, the employer is not required to undergo an undue hardship to make an accommodation.

For example, accommodating an employee’s need to wear a particular head covering, such as a Muslim headscarf or a Jewish yarmulke, may be required, provided these requests are based on religious reasons. Employers may be required to offer flexible schedules or reassign jobs so that an employee may practice their religion. If the accommodation creates more than a minor burden on the employer’s business, however, the employer may not be required to make such an accommodation. Examples of undue hardship may include high expenses or compromised safety at the workplace.

To claim the protections set forth in Title VII, employees must meet certain criteria. The religious belief set forth by the employee must be part of a bona fide religion. The employee must also make it known to the employer or supervisor that there is a conflict between the job requirements or policies and the employee’s religious practices. Finally, employees must work with their employer to attempt to find a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship for the employer.

It is common for employees to fear retaliation for pursuing an employment discrimination claim. However, employees have rights against retaliation. Retaliation claims may lead to large damages awards for the employee, often as substantial as for the underlying violation.

Protect Your Rights by Consulting a Religious Discrimination Attorney in Chicago

Employees seeking representation for their discrimination claims can rely on the experience of the Chicago religious discrimination lawyers at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Often, large amounts of discovery and information are required to successfully prove a discrimination claim. Our attorneys are prepared to gather information, investigate your claim, and present a strong case for recovery on your behalf. To schedule your consultation, call our office at 312-724-5846 or contact us online. We also represent people in Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as other areas of Cook, Kane, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Adams Counties. Our firm also can guide you if you need an age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, or national origin discrimination lawyer to bring a claim on your behalf.