Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employers in New Jersey from discriminating against employees because of their religion. Employers are also required to provide employees with requested religious accommodations, such as breaks for prayer, as long as it does not cause the employer undue hardship. If you believe that your request for a religious accommodation has been wrongfully denied, it is essential to have an experienced religious discrimination attorney.
At Castronovo & McKinney, LLC, we are committed to protecting employees’ right to freedom of religion. When religious practices – prayer, observing religious holidays, wearing religious garb – conflict with an employer’s policies, we work to ensure our clients are granted reasonable religious accommodations.
While disputes over religious practices in the workplace can often be settled out of court, if necessary we are always prepared to litigate. When you meet with us, we will take the time to explain your employment rights and choose the best course of action. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.
What Are Religious Accommodations?
When an employee has sincere religious beliefs and requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to engage in an interactive process to determine whether to grant the request.
Examples of religious accommodations include:
- Permitting an employee to wear religious clothing, such as a headscarf (hijab) or skullcap (yarmulke)
- Allowing an employee to keep a long beard for religious reasons
- Modifying an employee’s schedule so they can attend religious services, take time off for a weekly Sabbath day or religious holidays
- Providing breaks and private space for prayer at specific times of the day
- Reassigning job duties that may conflict with an employee’s beliefs
- Excusing an employee from religious invocations at company meetings that conflict with their beliefs or lack thereof
When Are Religious Accommodations An Undue Hardship?
Employers in New Jersey are not required to provide employees with a specific religious accommodation but rather try to find a workable arrangement. Also, employers are not required to provide an accommodation that would cause undue hardship or impose more than minor costs to the company.
Examples of minor costs include administrative costs, such as time spent changing schedules, or overtime pay to an employee who covers a co-worker’s shift to accommodate a religious observance on a limited basis.
A religious accommodation may also be considered an undue hardship if it:
- Adversely impacts employee morale
- Reduces productivity
- Infringes other employees’ rights
- Requires coworkers to assume burdensome or hazardous work
Employee breaks for prayers or not permitting an employee to wear a hijab should not pose an undue hardship and denying these and other reasonable accommodations may constitute religious discrimination.
Religious Expressions In The Workplace
Some religions require their followers to express their beliefs when speaking with colleagues by using phrases such as “God bless you.” An employee who is barred from expressing sincere religious beliefs may feel discriminated against, but an employee who is subjected to a colleague’s religious views may feel harassed. The challenge for employers is finding the right balance.
In any event, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has held that employers must allow employees to express their religious beliefs in the workplace if it does not cause undue hardship to the employer. Also, religious expression cannot be more restricted than other forms of expression such as political arguments that may affect the work environment.
On the other hand, proselytizing in the workplace may infringe on the rights of other employees and may be considered unlawful harassment.
Why Choose Us?
If you have been denied a reasonable accommodation or discriminated against because of your religious beliefs, we can help. While determining whether an accommodation would cause an undue hardship may sound complicated, failing to do so may constitute religious discrimination.
Once you become our client, we will:
- Obtain copies of employment policies and personnel records
- Review your request for an accommodation
- Interview witnesses, including managers and supervisors
- Handle communications with your employer, human resources personnel, and their lawyers
Trust our religious discrimination attorney to protect your rights and convince your employer to grant the accommodation. If we determine that your religious freedoms have been violated, we can help you take legal action against your employer.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensatory damages and emotional distress damages, as well as punitive damages if your employer knowingly violated applicable anti-discrimination laws.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Religious Accommodations Lawyer
At Castronovo & McKinney, we are committed to helping employees fight back against religious discrimination. If you have been denied reasonable accommodation, discriminated against, or harassed because of your religious beliefs, we will provide you with powerful representation and protect your rights. Remember, you cannot be legally retaliated against for complaining about religious discrimination or exercising your rights. Contact us today so we can start working on your claim.