Under federal and state laws, employers are not allowed to discriminate against their employees on the basis of religion.  This means that your employer cannot take action regarding any aspect of employment (e.g., hiring, firing, awarding benefits) based on your religious beliefs.  So, an employer cannot refuse to hire you because you are Protestant. 

What Counts as a Religious Belief?

While it is clear that employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of your religion, it is not so clear what counts as a religious belief.  According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines, religious belief is not limited to just the traditional religions, such as Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim.  The Guidelines also state that a belief is not religious because it is a belief of a religious group.  In other words, a Christian belief is not religious because Christians believe it.  Rather, a belief is religious if it is held with the strength of traditional religious views. 

Other Things to Know about Religious Belief

There are a few other important things to know about religious beliefs.  These include:

  • Your religious belief must be sincerely held.  If your belief is not sincerely held (i.e., you are faking it or it is not actually of importance to you), you employer will not have to accommodate your belief.
  • A belief does not have to be a core value of your religion to be religious.  As mentioned above, a belief need only be held sincerely and as strongly as traditional religious views.
  • Philosophical beliefs can be religious beliefs for the purposes of religious discrimination.
  • Courts will consider a number of factors when determining whether your belief is religious.  For example, courts will consider whether there is a collective worship and whether your belief affects your way of life.

Accommodation of Religious Beliefs

Your employer must take steps to accommodate your sincerely held religious beliefs.  Theses accommodations need only be reasonable, which means your employer will not have to make accommodations that impose an undue hardship on the company. 

What if My Employer Does Not Accommodate My Religious Belief?

If your employer does not accommodate your religious belief or takes any action regarding your employment on the basis of your religious belief, you may be the victim of religious discrimination.  An experienced employment lawyer can help you determine whether your employer ahs discriminated against you and represent you in court if necessary.