Although religious freedom is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, religious discrimination in Chicago workplaces is a persistent problem. At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, our attorneys fight against all forms of employment discrimination as part of our overall commitment to justice. If you have experienced religious discrimination or retaliation for filing a complaint, we are here to protect your rights.
Contact our religious discrimination attorneys to have your case evaluated by knowledgeable professionals. Once we determine that you have a viable case, we will begin to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and create a strategy to right the wrongs done to you. We are agile negotiators and strong litigators with a track record of successful outcomes. We will do everything in our power to bring you fair treatment and well-deserved compensation — whether or not it becomes necessary to go to court.
What constitutes religious discrimination?
There are three basic types of religious discrimination in the workplace:
- Disparate Treatment
Any employment decision based on religion or perceived religion is illegal. This includes discrimination in hiring, promotion, wages, or termination.
Singling out any employee or group of employees for harassment because of their religion is also considered religious discrimination. No matter whether the perpetrator is a supervisor, coworker, CEO, or a third party (e.g. customer, client, or vendor), such behavior is against the law and is not permitted in the workplace. If an employer knows of such unsavory conduct and allows it to continue, she/he can be held legally accountable.
- Failure to Reasonably Accommodate Religious Practices
Reasonable accommodation includes allowing employees:
- To observe daily prayers
- Wear religious garments (e.g. hijabs, yarmulkes, turbans)
- Take off time to observe their religious holidays
- Follow grooming customs, such as Sikh beards or Rastafarian dreadlocks
So, if you have been the victim of taunts or discriminatory emails, been excluded from appropriate training sessions or from office parties, or forbidden to wear garments required by your religious beliefs, our religious discrimination attorneys will help you protect your sincerely held beliefs.
The Law Forbids Religious Discrimination
When it comes to religious freedom, the law is on your side. Whether you practice Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Bahai or some other recognized religion, or if you are an atheist, federal and Illinois state law assert your right to be treated fairly in an employment setting.
The Illinois Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 state that religion is a protected class (like race, gender, age, etc.) and any discrimination by employers based on religious beliefs is forbidden. Employees do, however, have to fulfill their end of the bargain by:
- Clearly explaining to their employer what religious accommodations they require
- Describing how the job’s requirements conflict with their religious beliefs or practices
It should be noted that in order for these protections to hold, employees, too, must be flexible, not demanding unreasonable accommodations that would create “undue hardship” (i.e. more than minimal expense) for the company that employs them.
Examples of Religious Discrimination in Illinois?
Religious discrimination is offensive as well as illegal. It may negatively impact not only the victim but all fair-minded employees at the workplace: customers, clients, vendors, and even delivery personnel.
Religious discrimination creates a hostile work environment and can result in permanent reputational damage to the company. This is a good reason for employers to consult with an experienced religious discrimination lawyer to make sure they have created a work environment that is not clouded by discrimination.
Examples of religious discrimination and harassment include:
- Denying employment, promotion, raises, bonuses, travel, training or other benefits to employees based on their religious beliefs and practices
- Refusing to accommodate certain religious practices, such as observing the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday or taking a day off for the observance of an important religious holiday
- Terminating an employee who insists on wearing a beard for religious reasons
- Prohibiting an employee from coming into contact with clients because of her hijab
- Forbidding a Rastafarian employee from wearing dreadlocks or a Jewish employee from wearing a yarmulke
- Making derogatory comments about a religion or its followers, thereby creating a hostile work environment
- Telling jokes or showing cartoons denigrating another person’s religion
- Proselytizing during work hours if it interferes with the targeted employees’ ability to work
If you are or have been experiencing religious discrimination at your place of employment, you need the excellent representation our religious discrimination attorneys can provide. We have a long history of winning substantial damages for our clients.
Damages We Will Fight to Recover
Because we consider every religious discrimination case we win to be a step closer to eliminating workplace discrimination altogether, and because we take the harm that has come to you as an affront not only to your freedom but to the freedom of all of us, we will fight aggressively to recover damages for:
- Back pay for lost wages, bonuses, promotions
- Front pay as compensation for lost income until you find new employment
- Emotional suffering
- Punitive damages if your employer’s misconduct was especially egregious
The amount we may be able to recover during negotiations or after a positive verdict increases with the size of your company. For example, if you work for an employer with 15-100 employees, we may recover $50,000, but if your company employs 500 workers, we may be able to win as much as $300,000, depending on particular circumstances.
Contact Our Skilled Religious Discrimination Attorneys Today
You should never be made to feel like an outsider (or worse, a target) at your place of employment because of your religion. You are entitled to work under safe conditions that offer everyone an equal footing. If you have hit career roadblocks, been humiliated, or were wrongfully terminated due to your religious beliefs or practices, get in touch with us as soon as you can. We will fight vigorously to get you back in sync with your goals and to recover the damages you deserve.