Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Everything You Need To Know About Religious Discrimination In California
Religious Beliefs and Practices are well-protected by the law. This holds true in California, one of the states that have the most worker protection laws against discrimination. That said, your employer cannot make employment decisions—such as hiring, firing, promotions, and pay—on the basis of your religion.
What Protects You In California?
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) policies promulgated under it and a few similar provisions of federal law contain broad, powerful protections of California employees from religious discrimination at work. These provisions prohibit employers in California from discriminating against employees and others on religious grounds.
You can report an employer for religious belief discrimination if they do any of the following:
Made employment decisions on the basis of your (or lack thereof) religious beliefs
Failed or refused to give reasonable accommodations for someone's religious beliefs and practices.
When any of these happen, you will have the grounds to file complaints to the appropriate agencies. Consult with a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you build a case and collect evidence to support your claims.
Who Is Protected Against Religious Belief Discrimination In California?
All religions and religious practices, not only major faiths, are protected.
Californians have a wide diversity of religious views. All of them, large religions and minor cults alike, are protected by civil rights laws.
According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's (DFEH) regulations implementing FEHA, a "religious credo" protected under civil rights law includes:
Any recognized religion, as well as any other beliefs, observances, or practices that an individual honestly holds and that have a place of importance in his or her life that is comparable to that of traditionally recognized faiths
Includes religious attire and grooming traditions, as well as all aspects of religious belief, observation, and practice
Under the FEHA, any employment action taken against a job applicant or employee because of that person's religious views or practices is illegal discrimination. Here are several examples:
Refusing to recruit someone because of their religious beliefs, including whether the person is religious or not
When determining which employees to promote or how much to pay them, an employee's religious opinion is considered a factor or criteria
Because of a religiously observant employee's wardrobe, an employer may fire, demote, or take other retaliatory action against the person
Allowing a workplace atmosphere in which an employee's religious beliefs are mocked or criticized
Because of the employee's religious grooming practices, they are barred from working in a job that requires contact with the company's customers or the general public
Employees are separated/segregated, or their job responsibilities are assigned based on their religious beliefs
An employee is fired after the employer finds out about their (or lack thereof) religious beliefs and practices
An employee is fired or isn't hired because the boss or hiring manager assumed their religious beliefs
Do note that this list of examples is not exhaustive. These are only a few of the many religiously motivated job behaviors that can be considered criminal discrimination. As a general rule, any action taken by an employer or supervisor that is motivated by religion risks violating the FEHA and federal law.
Apprenticeships and internships in many California job areas, such as entertainment, law, marketing, manufacturing, and the building trades, provide vital opportunities for Californians just starting out in the workforce to gain experience and set the groundwork for a career. Some of these jobs pay a small wage, but the majority are unpaid.
When it comes to the right to be free from religious discrimination, an apprentice's or intern's age, experience level, job term, or wage status are irrelevant. Apprentices and interns are protected from illegal religious discrimination to the same extent as full-time employees under California civil rights statutes.
Independent contractors are also protected from religious discrimination. Working as an independent contractor for a California company rather than as an employee does not imply giving up your rights. Independent contractors are protected from religious discrimination in two ways under California civil rights law:
The FEHA clearly prohibits harassment of independent contractors on the grounds of their religious beliefs.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act provides all California residents, regardless of religion, "full and equal accommodations, benefits, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every sort whatsoever."
Religious organizations are exempt from religious discrimination rules in most cases, but not all. Religious groups and associations, such as churches, mosques, and synagogues, are generally protected from religious discrimination laws under state and federal law. Even if an exempt religious institution governs it, a private, for-profit religious company may not be entitled to the same exemption.
For example, a church recruiting a new youth minister can normally consider applicants' religious beliefs when making its decision. However, that church's separately established, for-profit book publishing company may not be allowed to discriminate against applicants for editorial positions based on religion.
In addition, religious organizations may be held liable for other forms of discrimination. Because religious organizations frequently raise objections on religious freedom grounds anytime new legislation seeks to restrict their activities, this area of law frequently sparks debate.
That said, if you qualify for these employment protections and have experienced discrimination at work, you should contact a California Employment Attorney to help you sort out your employment claims.
What Are Reasonable Accommodations For Religious Beliefs?
Avoiding the types of overt discriminatory practices outlined above is only one aspect of an employer's civil rights responsibility. Employees' religious beliefs and practices must also be accommodated in a fair manner by the company. According to DFEH guidelines:
A reasonable accommodation avoids a conflict between the employee's religious practice and the job requirement. Accommodations for religious beliefs may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Modification of work practices
Allowing changes in schedules to avoid a conflict with his or her religious observation
For example, California law and regulations specifically state that reasonable accommodations include:
Interviews, exams, and other duties connected to job chances should be scheduled around religious observances, such as religious holidays or days of rest.
Providing time for employees to go to and from religious services or events.
Allowing employees to dress and groom according to religious guidelines, including wearing clothes, head coverings, jewelry, and facial hair.
Allowing employees to opt out of union membership and/or dues if their religious beliefs prevent them from doing so.
Making hiring or firing choices to avoid having to provide reasonable religious accommodations, or retaliating against an employee for requesting one, is likewise criminal discrimination.
Again, this list is a non-exhaustive list. Your experience might be different than everyone else. For a more specific assessment of your case, contact a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to know if you have grounds to file a discrimination claim.
Accommodations And Dress Codes
Employers must fairly accommodate an employee's religious beliefs unless it causes an undue hardship in the company's operation. You must contact and consult with a California employment lawyer to assess your specific circumstances and determine whether your rights have been violated.
This relates to scheduling changes or time off for religious observances, as well as an employee's actions for religious reasons, such as attire or grooming. Here are a few examples of clothing and grooming related to religion:
Wearing certain haircuts or facial hair
Wearing unique headcovers (such as a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim hijab)
Wearing other sacred clothing are example of this (such as Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard)
An employer cannot demand that their employees not wear religious clothing are keep their symbolic hair. It is also considered discriminatory to force an employee to wear clothing considered religious taboo (such as trousers or miniskirts).
If an employee or candidate requires a dress or grooming accommodation for religious reasons, he or she should inform the company. If the employer properly requests more information, the employer and the employee may engage in an open procedure to answer the request. If the accommodation is not too burdensome, the employer must provide it.
To file a discrimination claim, a pre-screened California Employment Attorney will assist you in gathering all essential evidence.
Harassment In The Workplace
Harassing an employee because of his or her religious beliefs is unlawful in California. Harassment can take many forms, such as making disparaging remarks about a person's religious beliefs or conduct. An employment lawyer can assist you in determining whether you have sufficient proof of this form of discrimination.
Workplace harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or extreme that it creates a hostile and intolerable work environment. While the law does not prohibit simple mockery, offhand statements, or isolated events that are not very serious, it is illegal when it is so frequent or extreme that it creates a very hostile and intolerable work environment.
What If My Boss Gets Back At Me For Reporting Them?
If your employer punishes you for reporting them to the right authorities, then it is considered an act of Retaliation.
Filing a Labor Law Claim is a protected action in California. As a result, it is illegal to impose any employment decisions on an employee as a form of punishment or retaliation for exercising protected rights.
Employee retaliation can take a variety of forms. Termination, demotion, and wage decreases are examples of adverse employment actions.
The materiality test is commonly used in California court rulings to assess whether an action can be considered retaliation. The materiality test assesses whether a certain action is sufficient to hurt an employee's employment situation. Without demotion, a pay cut, or other consequences, job transfers and poor performance assessments would suffice in this test.
The protected activity and the adverse employment action must be linked in a retaliation claim. The employee bears the burden of establishing that the employer took unfavorable action against him or her because of protected activity.
The fact that the retaliatory action occurred soon after can aid in proving retaliation. Regarding disciplinary actions, supervisors and managers don't always communicate with one another.
As a result, one supervisor could be oblivious of the protected activity while the other takes disciplinary action against the employee. The employer may not be liable for retaliation in these situations since the two occurrences are unrelated.
That said, if you ever experience retaliation for exercising your rights, contact a California Employment Attorney to help you file a Retaliation Claim. Having a lawyer by your side will ensure you are not vulnerable to underhanded tactics to silence you or accept a settlement that's less than you deserve.
Wrongful Termination In California Employment Law
Your boss cannot fire you for illegal reasons. These reasons include firing as an act of discrimination and termination as a retaliatory action. Let's look at how a Wrongful Termination Case goes down in California below:
California Wrongful Termination Claims Based On Discrimination
In California, an employer is prohibited from firing an employee based on protected characteristics, including religious beliefs. Some examples of other discrimination claims include:
If you were fired from your job for any of the reasons listed above, you might have a strong wrongful termination case, and you should contact a reputable and experienced pre-screened Los Angeles Employment Lawyer.
If you win a discrimination lawsuit, your employer may be held liable and will be compelled to pay not just your lost earnings and benefits but also your legal bills, court costs, emotional distress, and, in some situations, punitive penalties.
Legal fees are included in your compensation, so you won't have to pay anything extra to contact the best Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles.
Wrongful Termination in California Due To Retaliation Claims
An employee in California cannot be fired for asserting his or her employment rights. The following are examples of common circumstances where an employee is fired for illegal reasons:
Fired for filing a discrimination or harassment complaint.
For taking or seeking family or medical leave.
Taking a break from work to serve on a jury.
Making a claim for workers' compensation.
Fired because you filed a complaint concerning improper wage and hour practices (such as unpaid overtime or illegal tip-sharing arrangements).
Most employees are unaware that California has among of the strictest regulations for companies when it comes to terminating employees, which means there are several opportunities for retaliation claims. If you were fired from your work after filing a complaint or exercising a legal right, you must file a California wrongful termination claim immediately with one of our pre-screened employment attorneys.
The amount of money you could obtain as a result of a lawsuit is determined by the facts of your case. During a personal and confidential conversation, an attorney with considerable experience in California wrongful termination cases will examine your case and advise you on how to proceed based on the broken law.
How Can You File Wrongful Termination Claims In California?
How Wrongful Termination Lawsuits are handled in California is primarily determined by the type of wrongful termination. If the claim for unfair termination is based on discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation, the California Department of Equal Employment and Housing (DFEH) will almost certainly have to conduct a preliminary inquiry. You may request the following from the DFEH via this submission:
Investigate the case and find a way to resolve it;
Issue you a "right to sue", giving you the permission to go to court with your case.
If your wrongful termination claim results in a breach of contract or a violation of public policy, you can bring your lawsuit to the appropriate state court. The case must be served on the employer and any other adverse party by the California Rules of Civil Procedure until the lawsuit is filed in the appropriate court.
This starts the claim procedure in court, and the employer may have a chance to respond to the allegations. Hearings will be scheduled, and the discovery process will allow you and your wrongful termination lawyer to demand certain documents and admissions from the employer. The employer will receive the same reward.
If no agreement can be reached, the case will be tried. It all depends on the facts and circumstances, and in certain cases, a trial will produce a better outcome than a settlement. However, a courtroom still has concerns because a jury might be unpredictable.
It is always in your interest to consult your California Employment Attorney about the best options. They will act as your representative and be able to take calls and do the necessary paperwork for you on top of being able to argue your case in court or out-of-court settlements.
How Much Time Do I Have For Filing A Wrongful Termination Claim In California?
A wrongful termination claim must usually be filed within two (2) years. On the other hand, the statute of limitations for wrongful termination in California varies depending on the type of complaint filed.
If you were unlawfully terminated or threatened because of discrimination based on a protected class, you have one year from the date of termination to file a lawsuit with the DFEH.
If the DFEH has not settled the litigation or issued you a right-to-sue notification, you have 90 days to file a complaint in state court from the day the DFEH announced its decision.
You have twenty-four months from the termination date to file a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission if you were wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy for engaging in a protected activity (e.g., filing a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, which is a protected act).
Depending on your contract status, your deadlines might vary:
You have two years if an oral or implied contract is breached.
You have four years if a formal contract has been broken.
Your case will be dismissed if you do not file your California wrongful termination claim within the applicable statute of limitations. You may be entitled to an exception if there are extenuating or substantial circumstances.
When you're at this point of your employment law claim, you should work with your dedicated Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to get the appropriate evidence to back up your claims in court.
What Proof Is Required In A Wrongful Termination Claim?
That said, when you report your boss for retaliation and wrongful termination, the success of your claim hinges upon the available evidence there is. That is why agencies will do their own investigations when they decide to take your case.
When an agency doesn't take your case, you and your Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles are still tasked to gather and collect all to evidence to show your employer's (or supervisor's) illegal employment decisions.
While you still don't have an attorney, there might be pieces of evidence that you have access to at work. Here are a few that you might want to look out for when you suspect discrimination:
Photo and video evidence. Keep track of the indications if you feel you're being discriminated against or retaliated against. Take images of your employer or HR ignoring coworkers who are discriminating against you.
However, you should be aware that gathering this type of proof (i.e., filming another person) can escalate existing tensions (or disputes), so proceed with caution.
Messages sent by electronic means. Your work emails, chat rooms, and text messages could prove that you're being discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against.
Keep any emails or discussions in which your employer or HR explicitly implies that you're being fired for illegal reasons.
Pay stubs, time cards, written notices, and other employment documents. These documents could prove that your employer has begun to retaliate against you (i.e., demotions, suspensions, and pay cuts). If you've recently filed an Employment Law Claim with an agency, these are very crucial to keep an eye on.
If you, unfortunately, don't manage to get your hands on this evidence, your Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles will do their own investigations to help your case. They can procure records and other necessary evidence (like eyewitness testimonies) to help you build a robust case against your employer.
You need to listen to your lawyer's advice, keep yourself updated on the case, and supply your lawyer with information when they ask you about your unpleasant experiences at work.
Find A California Employment Attorney for Religious Discrimination
Contacting Employment Law Firms in California as soon as possible following harassment, wrongful termination, and retaliation is the best way to protect your rights.
If you don't know where to start or find a firm, get a referral instead! At 1000Attorneys.com, you can get a free initial case review by submitting case details through our form or our 24/7 Live Chat.