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Religious discrimination in the workplace

California employers must take steps to ensure that religious discrimination does not occur in their workplaces. It is important to keep in mind that for the purposes of determining religious discrimination, religion is not limited to the major world faiths like Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. It may also include much smaller and lesser-known religions and belief systems as well as people who are atheists.

There are several types of religious discrimination that employers must keep an eye out for. One is treating people differently, including failing to hire or promote them, because of their religion. Another is remaining silent while an employee is harassed because of his or her religion. Not acting when an employee is harassed can make it appear as though the employer condones the behavior. Employers are also not permitted to retaliate against workers who report religious discrimination. Finally, a worker cannot be discriminated against due to the religion of another person with whom he or she has a relationship. This practice is known as associational bias.

Employers are required to offer reasonable accommodation for a person's religious beliefs such as schedule changes, being able to wear certain articles of clothing and allowing prayer breaks. In some cases, an employer might not be able to make the first accommodation an employer asks for, but it may be possible to compromise.

An individual who has experienced workplace discrimination based on his or her religion may first want to try to resolve the situation by going to a supervisor or human resources. Even if someone who has been discriminated against does not want to involve an attorney, he or she may want to consult one in order to fully understand his or her rights before speaking to a supervisor. If the person's workplace does not take steps to remedy the situation, he or she may wish to speak to a lawyer about filing a discrimination lawsuit.

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