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What are the religious rights in the workplace?

Workplaces in Minnesota and elsewhere in the nation often employ individuals from different backgrounds, embodying different personal characteristics. Diversity in the workplace is often highlighted as a positive factor, helping to add value to the workplace. While diversification is considered positive, some employees have rather negative experiences regarding his or her difference. Due to differences in race, culture and religion, some employees may experience discrimination and harassment, leading to a hostile work environment.

What are the religious rights in the workplace? Because religious discrimination is a serious type of employment discrimination because it attacks an individual's beliefs and faith, employees should understand what rights are afforded to him or her in the situation. According to the Civil Right Act, employees and prospective employees cannot be treated differently because of his or her religious beliefs.

Because there is a vast range of religions, employees and employers need to be knowledgeable about what constitutes discrimination based on religion. However, in most cases, an individual does not have to be a member of a specific well-known or official religious group to be protected by these rights. If an employee has a sincerely held belief, those beliefs cannot be discriminated against.

In some cases, a religion requires specific rituals such as clothing, dietary restrictions and prayer schedules. If an employer does not properly and adequately make work accommodations for these religion-specific rituals, this could be considered discrimination.

If an employee believes he or she is being mistreated for their religious beliefs, it is important to speak up about any concerns. Employees should learn more about their rights and what steps they could take if he or she is being discriminated against. This could result in a civil action being filed and even compensation being awarded for the damages caused by the situation.

Source: Payscale.com, "Religious Discrimination at Work: What Are the Rules?" Dan Kalish, Mar. 10, 2015

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