Avoiding Religious Discrimination

The federal EEOC reported an increase of 13%  for religious discrimination claims in 2007.  Of the 2880 claims, 59.3% were found to have “no reasonable cause”.   On the claims with any merit, the EEOC collected $6.4 million, not counting litigation awards.  With society’s ever-growing religious diversity, it is important for organizations to understand how to provide a work environment free of religious discrimination.

According to the EEOC:

In fiscal year 2014 the EEOC received 3,549 charges alleging discrimination on the basis of religion.  These charges represent a slight decrease from the past few years but remain significantly above the numbers from before fiscal year 2007.  The top issues alleged in religion charges are Discharge, Harassment, Terms and Conditions of Employment, and Reasonable Accommodation.  EEOC also realized 268 settlements and 34 successful conciliations from 3,575 resolutions in fiscal year 2014.

The EEOC has filed 68 lawsuits since the beginning of fiscal year 2010 involving claims of religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  During the same period the Commission recovered approximately $4 million, as well as important injunctive and other case-specific “make whole” relief, for victims of religious discrimination.

Read the full article at the EEOC website.

Can you express religious views at work?  Of course, but as the business owner or manager you also have a responsibility to make sure employees don’t “pick on”, belittle, tease, or mock those who have differing beliefs from theirs.

Steps you should take: Familiarize yourself with the guidelines the EEOC provides on how to avoid religious discrimination:

Best Practices, according to the EEOC, on how to avoid religious discrimination at the workplace:

https://www.eeoc.gov//policy/docs/best_practices_religion.html

What is religious discrimination? EEOC offers a lengthy explanation of what (and isn’t) considered discrimination in the workplace:

https://www.eeoc.gov//policy/docs/qanda_religion.html

Do you have a written policy against religious discrimination? Such a policy is included in all professionally-designed Employee Handbooks. If you want to learn more about how much it costs to get an employee handbook for your business, see our recent post about the subject: What does it cost to get an Employee Handbook?

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