Federal law prohibits employers in Minnesota and states throughout the country from discriminating against employees on the basis of the employee’s religion. As with other protected classes, an employer may not refuse to consider or hire a job candidate because of his or her religion, nor may an employer fire, discipline, refuse to promote or take other adverse actions against an employee because of his religious beliefs.

Likewise, an employer must ensure that all employees are free of a work environment that is hostile to the employee’s religious beliefs. While an employer is not expected to prevent all inappropriate comments or other negative incidents related to an employee’s beliefs and practices, the employer must take reasonable steps to curtail such harassment and to stop it if it occurs.

Finally, an employer also must provide reasonable accommodations to an employee’s religious practices. While this doesn’t mean that an employer has to sacrifice the best interests of the business for the sake of one employee, it does mean at a minimum that the employer can make basic concessions to an employee of faith, like making sure the employee has time off to attend mandatory religious observances.

The federal law includes a very broad definition of what constitutes religion. Beyond the well-known organized religions, employees who have sincere religious and moral views are also protected from employment discrimination on the basis of religion.

Many people in the Twin Cities have deeply held religious views, even if they do not belong to particularly large or well-known organized religion. Religious discrimination is prohibited, so employees should not have to choose between those beliefs and their paychecks. Employees who feel that they have been victims of religious discrimination may have legal options available to them.