Employment Discrimination During the Holidays

While it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because the of their religious beliefs, our legal team frequently receive calls around this time of the year from clients who want to know if they can sue their employer for their denying their request to take time off for religious holidays, such as Christmas and Hanukkah.

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that your employer can’t treat you differently because of your religion and can’t force you to participate or not participate in religious activity as part of your job, there is no specific federal law that says your employer has to approve requested time off for religious holidays.

Title VII requires your employer make reasonable accommodations if you ask to take a day off for a religious holiday. However, your employer doesn’t have to provide you with accommodation if it will create "undue hardship” for them. It is also important to note that only religious beliefs that are “sincerely held ”are protected under Title VII. So if your employer doubts the basis for your request they are allowed to “make a limited inquiry into the facts and circumstances” of your claim.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the following factors might undermine your claim if you ask for time off for a religious holiday:

  • You have behaved in a manner that is clearly inconsistent with the religion you claim to believe
  • The accommodation you are requesting is a particularly desirable benefit that is likely to be sought for secular reasons
  • The timing of your requests is questionable
  • Your employer reasonably believes the accommodation you are seeking isn’t for religious purposes

What Other Accommodations Can My Employer Make?

Although your employer doesn’t have to give you a paid day off for the holiday, they can do the following to accommodate your religious beliefs if it won’t cause undue hardship:

  • Scheduling changes
  • Voluntary substitution with another employee
  • Shift swapping
  • Change an employee’s job task
  • Make exceptions to the company’s dress and grooming rules
  • Allow the employee to use the work facility for a religious observance

Speak to a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer in Burbank

Do you believe your employer is discriminating against you because of your religious beliefs? If so, you need to get in touch with our seasoned legal team at Limonjyan Law Group to discuss the details of your situation. We are committed to serving workers throughout Southern California, and we are prepared to use our years of experience to defend your rights.

Give us a call today at (213) 377-6707 to request your free consultation with one of our legal professionals.

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