As the owner of a business in Las Vegas, there are many things that require your attention. In a previous post, the increasing number of employment lawsuits was discussed. In an effort to protect your company against unnecessary and expensive business litigation, it is important to gain an understanding what behaviors within a company fall under religious discrimination.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that religious discrimination takes place when a person’s religious beliefs is used as a reason for action by a company. This means from the moment a potential employee walks into your office for an interview, that person is protected by this law. Therefore, it is illegal for you to ask about a person’s religion during the application and interview. However, if the person’s religious beliefs would prohibit that person from performing the job, then it could be used as an evaluating factor. For example, the job responsibilities require a person to work on a day they use for religious observances. The applicant’s inability to work on that day could affect the person’s eligibility.
Within the workplace environment, employees and management must show respect for another’s religious beliefs. The recounting of jokes that insult that person’s beliefs, putting a person’s religion down, harassment over a person’s religious or moral beliefs, and failure to advance a person within the company because of the person’s faith would be considered discrimination. That said, it is important to understand that light teasing that is not intended to upset the person would not fall under this rule. If the employee appears to be fine with conversations over religious views or the incident only occurs once, then there would probably be no legal problems.
It is your responsibility as an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to employees for religious purposes. For example, if a person’s faith requires that person to pray to their deity at a certain time, you could arrange for a break at this time to enable this observance. The same is true for the wearing of religious garments. However, if providing accommodation would severely impact your business, then you may not have to provide this to the employee.
It should be understood that the above information is purely for educational value and not for legal advice or counsel.