Religious Discrimination

New Jersey strongly prohibits employment discrimination. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects employees from discrimination based on age, race, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship, marital status, and other factors. These factors cannot impact any hiring or firing decisions, promotions or demotions, benefits, or other employment matters.

Freedom of religion is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and New Jersey forbids employers from treating employees differently based on:

  • Their religious faith or place of worship
  • Their status as a non-believer
  • Their association with members of a faith, including relatives
  • Their perceived faith, even if not confirmed
  • Their sincerely held moral and ethical beliefs that may not be tied to a specific theology

The legal definition of religion is broad and encompasses both traditional and non-traditional religious practices.

Hiring Practices

Employers must consider any qualified candidate regardless of their religion or lack thereof. During the interview process, a potential employer may not ask candidates what their faith is, how they practice their religion, or what places of worship they are affiliated with. Religion cannot be a factor in determining the conditions of employment, including salary and benefits, and cannot affect an employee’s prospects for promotion.

Discrimination in the Workplace

Your employer cannot treat you differently or less favorably because you are Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or because you are agnostic, or atheist.

NJLAD also prohibits harassment in the workplace based on an employee’s religion. This includes religious slurs from coworkers or supervisors, comments on religious clothing, or sharing insensitive emails, memes, or jokes. Employees cannot be excluded from meetings or opportunities because of their religion. Conversely, employees who are atheist or agnostic cannot be treated differently than other employees, and employers cannot share unwanted religious information with their employees.

Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for employees to practice their religion if it does not place an undue burden on the business.  Employees may have to modify uniforms or dress codes to include religious garments, such as yarmulkes, turbans, or beards maintained for religious reasons.  Additionally, employees may need to take time off or adjust their schedule for religious observances. An employer cannot terminate or penalize an employee for these adjustments.

Religious Discrimination Lawsuits

An employee or candidate who has been the victim of discrimination can pursue legal action against their employer. The first step in filing a claim is to submit a discrimination complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or you can file a lawsuit in federal or state court.

A victim of religious discrimination can recover monetary damages, including:

  • Lost wages: Back wages or benefits lost, due to unlawful termination or demotion; may also include future wages lost if the employee cannot find other opportunities
  • Out-of-pocket expenses: Any expenses incurred because of the discrimination, including those related to finding another job
  • Emotional distress: Damages related to mental and emotional pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages: Awarded in especially egregious cases to punish employers for violating discrimination law
  • Legal fees associated with the lawsuit

Reporting Employment Discrimination & Hiring Counsel

If an employee is unsure whether they have experienced employment discrimination, it is wise to contact an experienced employment lawyer.

Most companies have policies for reporting discriminatory actions, which the employee should always pursue first. When an employee has followed company policy, yet the discriminatory behavior continues, it is time to contact Levine Staller for a free consultation.

Proving a case of workplace religious discrimination can be difficult. Your employer may try to justify their decisions by claiming that you had the wrong qualifications or poor job performance. It is important to thoroughly document instances of discrimination to support your case and establish that religion was the cause. Having an experienced employment discrimination lawyer by your side can help ensure that your case is strong, and you receive the maximum compensation possible.

Atlantic County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. Provide Comprehensive Representation for Victims of Religious Discrimination

If you have been the victim of workplace religious discrimination, call the Atlantic County employment discrimination lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. Our legal team has successfully represented clients in all types of employment discrimination cases, and we will be with you every step of the way to obtain the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, we help victims of religious discrimination throughout the communities of Atlantic County, Ocean County, and Cape May County. Call us today at 609-348-1300 or contact us online for an initial consultation.

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