Employment Discrimination is a form of discrimination based on a person’s membership in a protected class. To discriminate against someone means the employer treats the employee or job applicant differently, or less favorably, for some reason.

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants based on their age, physical or mental disability, race, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation and gender identity.

What is Jewish Employment Discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits intentional discrimination against people for their religion. Jewish employment discrimination can include any type of employment discrimination based on the person’s religious faith.

Common types of employment discrimination based on one’s religious affiliation include not considering a qualified job applicant because his/her religion, passing up someone for promotion, or even firing an employee.

What are the Types of Employment Discrimination Claims?

The most common types of employment discrimination claims are as follows:

  • Hostile Work Environment: Pursuant to federal law, a hostile work environment exists when an employer or another employee’s behavior in the workplace creates an uncomfortable or difficult work environment for a particular person or group of people. For example, if your employer makes anti-Semitic jokes at office meetings, you my have a claim for hostile work environment.
  • Disparate Impact: Employment practices that have no discriminatory intent but have the impact of negatively affecting a person based on his or her protected class are said to have a disparate impact.  An employer who takes everyone out to lunch on a Jewish holiday with the exception of Jewish individuals in the office may have committed disparate impact. It’s important to note that this claim can be difficult to prove.
  • Disparate Treatment: This includes any pattern of treatment that is obvious and a public form of discrimination. For instance, an overt printed declaration banning Jewish people from applying to a job is an example of disparate treatment.
  • Negligence: If an employee makes a claim of Jewish employment discrimination and the employer fails to respond to the claim, it can be grounds for the employee filing a claim of negligence.

Are There Any Defenses My Employer Can Make?

Yes, although whether your employer will be successful depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

One defense your employer can make is known as the Bonafide Occupational Qualification. An organization that is overtly religious in structure and mission is legally allowed to make hiring and firing decisions based on a person’s religious beliefs and practices.

If the employee signs a waiver against filing a lawsuit based on discrimination, the employer will likely argue that she has waived her right to filing suit. This may be common in employment contracts where the employer agrees to settle all employment disputes with binding arbitration.

Lastly, an employer is required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious needs and protect him or her against a hostile work
environment. Notwithstanding, employers don’t need to incur more than minimal costs for these accommodations. 

Should I Seek Legal Counsel?

If you believe you have experienced employment discrimination because you practice or identify with Judaism, then you should first contact your manager/HR department. You should also file a claim with the EEOC, and if your manager, HR department, and the EEOC refuse to act on your behalf, then you should contact an attorney.

Employment lawyers who work in discrimination cases are the best resource for fighting a claim of religious discrimination.  Since these kinds of cases are costly and time-consuming, often plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys will reach a settlement without going to court. Superior representation is crucial to represent your specific interests.