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What religious discrimination looks like

Idaho residents who hold strong religious beliefs receive protection through state and federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws include protection against discrimination during the hiring process and how the employee is treated once they’re started working for the company. Knowing what religious discrimination looks like in the workplace allows employees to recognize when they are the victim of this illegal action.

During the hiring process

It’s illegal for companies to ask an applicant about their religious beliefs on an application or during an interview. If an employer somehow finds out about an applicant’s religious belief and then refuses to hire that applicant based on those beliefs, the employer committed religious discrimination.

Harassment in the workplace

Harassment based on religion includes offensive remarks, offensive behavior and humiliation based on an employee’s religious beliefs. While it’s difficult to prove that offhanded comments are discriminatory in nature, persistent and offensive comments are discriminatory. Making rude comments about an employee’s religious clothing, accessories or grooming habits is illegal.

Failure to accommodate

Certain religions have designated times in which believers must pray or take part in another activity based on their beliefs. When employers refuse to accommodate those beliefs and practices, they’re committing religious discrimination.

In 2019, a Muslim woman successfully sued her employer for religious discrimination based on their refusal to accommodate her religious practices. After offering to subtract her two five-minute prayer breaks before lunch from her two-hour lunch, her employers refused. The judge in her case ruled that since her prayer breaks would not create an undue hardship for the company, she was a victim of religious discrimination.

Firing employees

Firing an employee based on their religious beliefs or lack thereof is illegal. Companies cannot require employees to be of a certain faith, nor can they terminate employees who practice any faith.

Religious discrimination doesn’t always get as much attention as other forms of discrimination. However, it continues to pose a problem for thousands of Idaho residents.