Everyone deserves to feel safe where they work. There’s no reason why anyone should have to live with harassment just to make a living, especially not from coworkers. The federal government agrees, and Title VII explicitly prohibits workplace discrimination.
According to this law, it’s illegal for people who work together to harass each other for certain protected traits, including race, gender, and religion. Sometimes it’s obvious if you’re facing religious persecution. In other cases, you might not realize that a coworker’s uncomfortable behavior qualifies. Here’s how to tell if you’re facing illegal harassment for your religion.
What Is Religious Harassment?
When someone at your job bothers you because of your religion, it may be harassment. It’s illegal for anyone to ask about your faith in an interview, require you to change your religion, or repeatedly or severely mock you for your beliefs.
Simply mentioning religion or teasing you isn’t enough to qualify. However, persistent or severe actions and comments may count. More importantly, if you ask someone to stop and continue bringing up religion, they are crossing the line.
There are no specific beliefs that are “more” protected. Religious and non-religious people are equally able to suffer this treatment.
Types of Religious Workplace Harassment
There are two main types of actions that are considered harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environments.
Hostile Work Environments: When someone is made uncomfortable or scared to be in their workplace because of other employees’ behavior, they face a hostile work environment. Harmful environments can develop over time when offensive comments and actions add up or appear after just one serious incident.
Types of hostile workplace behaviors include:
- Frequent mentions of or questions about your religion
- Cruel or mocking comments and nicknames
- Threats referring to your beliefs
Quid Pro Quo: Meaning “this for that,” quid pro quo is subtle but just as harmful as a hostile work environment. If someone requires you to change your religion to get or keep a job, they’re engaging in quid pro quo.
Examples of faith-based quid pro quo are:
- Asking you to attend faith activities services to get a promotion
- Refusing to give you religious holidays off when employees with other religions get those days off
- Threatening to fire you for dressing according to your beliefs
Fight Back Against Religious Workplace Harassment in California
If you’re facing discrimination because of your beliefs, you can fight back. National laws are on your side. If you’ve reported your coworkers’ behavior to HR and nothing has changed, it’s time to take the next step.
Collect evidence of the offensive behavior and any reports you’ve made about it. Save your relevant emails and start writing down what happens and when. Then, talk to a qualified workers’ rights attorney.
A good lawyer can help you decide whether to negotiate with your employer or file a civil lawsuit. Whether your goal is to make your workplace a safer environment or to sue for damages to your career, they’ll help you make the right decision.
You deserve to feel safe and comfortable where you work. If you don’t, you can change it. Take the next step and protect yourself from religious workplace harassment today.