Religious Discrimination

In Illinois it is a considered religious discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act to treat an employee or prospective employee different because of their religious beliefs.  This means that the employer can't ask about what religion you are.  Also, it is not proper for an employer to make religious type comments at work to employees.  It is also a violation of federal law,  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to treat employees or applicants different because of their religious beliefs.  An employer may not force an employee to practice a particular religion or engage in activities of a religion.  Also, an employer must make a reasonable accommodation based on the religion of an employee.  So for example if your religion does not allow you to work on Sunday and the employer has enough employees to cover your shift on Sunday, the employer must make that accommodation.   On the other hand, if it is a small mom and pop operation and there aren't enough employees to cover the shift, you would have to work it.  So the determination will be on a case-by-case basis.

These cases are usually fact specific so a thorough examination of the facts would be required.  It takes an experienced employment lawyer who has training in this area to get the best results. Usually companies have enough employees to cover times when employees need to engage in religious activities.  So in most cases the company would have to grant the reasonable accommodation.  There are some other nuances that are involved in religious discrimination cases.  Many times the person complaining is the only person with that specific religion and the other employees may not wish to come forward.  Written documentation from the company is sometimes the best evidence if other workers will not come forward.  Knowing what to ask for can make or break your case.

In Illinois employees are permitted to engage in religious expression, unless the religious expression would impose an undue hardship on the company.  Many times religious discrimination will also take place with national origin discrimination.  After the attacks on 9-11 many Muslims faced discrimination in the workplace.  Many times this was done because of the fact that the terrorists who attacked the country were Muslim.  There are ways to get evidence to show this type of behavior is taking place in the workplace.

Also, due to recent immigration legislation, many Hispanic and Mexican workers are facing discrimination based on their religious beliefs, ancestry or national origin.  It is very important to document what is happening to you at work.  A detailed journal can help refresh your memory.  Make sure you include people who witnessed what took place.  If you believe your boss is picking on your or singling you out because of your religion send him an email and ask about it.  That email should then be printed and saved by you along with his response.  You can also address these same concerns to human resources.  Again, make sure you do this in writing so you can prove you complained.

Please contact my office at 312-505-5038 to discuss your case.  I never charge a fee unless you recover.  And there are strict periods of time in which to file your case.  If you wait one day too long, you may be prohibited from filing.  Make sure you protect your rights.

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