philadelphia religious Discrimination law firm serving pennsylvania and new jersey

The freedom of religion is a fundamental right for all Americans. Not only may you choose to practice the religion of your choice, but you may also choose to not practice one at all. Federal and state laws protect that freedom from being discriminated against in the workplace.

If you believe that you are dealing with employment discrimination based on religion, it is vital to contact an employment attorney who can determine your rights and remedies.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), and national origin. Title VII applies to employers who employ 15 or more employees.

Title VII prohibits religious discrimination during any stage of the employment relationship. Religious discrimination occurs when an employer treats an individual differently than other applicants or employees because of his/her religion. Religion in this instance includes organized religions as well as a person’s sincerely held beliefs/morals/ethics. A close association with a person of a particular religion may also be protected.

Title VII also prohibits harassment directed at an employee because of his/her religion that creates a hostile work environment. Further, an employer’s practices and policies may appear to be neutral (i.e., not overtly directed at employees of a certain national origin), but may have a disparate impact on employees of a certain national origin.

Title VII also requires employers to reasonably accommodations an employee’s religion if such an accommodation will have a minimal impact on the employer’s business. For example, a reasonable accommodation could include flexible scheduling or voluntary shift swapping to accommodate religious holidays.

Title VII has two exceptions: the religious organization exception and the ministerial exception. The religious organization exception allows religious organizations to give employment preference to members of its own religion. The ministerial exception bars most claims by clergy members.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits discrimination against multiple classes of people, including discrimination based on religious creed. The PHRA applies to employers who employ 4 or more employees.

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) also prohibits discrimination against multiple classes of people, including discrimination based on creed. The NJLAD applies to employers of any size. The NJLAD also has an exception that allows religious organizations that do not receive government funds to consider religious affiliation in hiring.

I have been discriminated against. What do I do?

There are strict deadlines for filing discrimination claims that vary by the circumstances of your situation and the state in which you reside. In Pennsylvania, victims of discrimination must first file through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) and receive a “Right to Sue” letter in order to file a lawsuit in court. In New Jersey, individuals may file a lawsuit in court without first filing with an agency.

If you have been a victim of illegal discrimination in the workplace, contact employment lawyer Stephanie J. Mensing of Mensing Law LLC at (215) 586-3751. Ms. Mensing in an employment attorney with extensive experience handling discrimination cases in the agencies and state and federal courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Schedule a consultation today to ensure that your rights are protected.