Under what situations and conditions can you be excused from having to get vaccinated? Employee rights lawyer Jack Tuckner discusses these situations and conditions, and what an employee may need to do.
Know Your Rights: Protection covers actions involving
your beliefs or practices tied to religion
Under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, you cannot be treated differently or unfavorably in the workplace because of your religious beliefs. Those beliefs aren’t just limited to the traditional, organized ones found in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism, for example, but protected beliefs include other sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. If you’re a devout Pastafarian, you’re covered.
If your company treats you differently because you’re married to, or associated with an individual of a particular religion that they don’t like, that’s religious discrimination, too, and it’s also illegal if they treat you differently because of your own connection to a specific religious organization or religious group.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination regarding any aspect of employment, such as your hiring and firing, pay, assignments, promotions, training, fringe benefits, and any other term, condition or benefit of employment.
Similar to workplace sexual harassment, it’s illegal if you’re harassed at work by offensive remarks about your religious beliefs or practices, although this does not include simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents. It becomes illegal harassment when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or when it results in an adverse employment action, such as your firing or demotion, or when you suffer further hostile backlash after opposing the discrimination.
The harasser can be your supervisor, a co-worker or even just a client or customer.
Federal Law Concerning Workplace Religious Harassment and Discrimination
Federal law also prohibits workplace segregation based on religion–which includes your religious attire and grooming practices–such as assigning you to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preferences. Such action is not permissible —that would be as illegal as not hiring you because of your religion.
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