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Does your boss fail to accommodate your religious beliefs?

It makes no difference whether you are a member of a traditional religion or you follow a lesser known faith. Your employer cannot discriminate against you.

If your employer does not accommodate your religious beliefs, he or she may be in violation of the law.

How it happens

Let us say that a large home furnishings store hired you several months ago. Your job was to greet customers, direct them to the proper section according to their needs and assist with sales. Recently, a new manager came on board, and he has reassigned you, calling it “a lateral move.” You draw the same salary but now you are working in the back office and have no contact with the customers.

Reasonable accommodation

Your religion requires you to wear a headscarf, and you believe this is why your boss reassigned you: He apparently feels that customers would be put off by your appearance and the obvious connection to your faith. However, the law prohibits workplace segregation of this kind. Your employer must reasonably accommodate your religious beliefs unless that would cause an “undue hardship” on his business operation. For example, your employer must be open to flexible scheduling if your religious practices require it as well as making changes to the working environment if necessary. The company should also alter its policies to accommodate faith-based dress and grooming practices.

Engaging in discussion

If you are unhappy with your reassignment, you should be able to discuss your feelings with the new manager. The company would have the right to move you to another department if your job performance had slipped, for example, or if in your work, you had somehow infringed upon the rights of others. To reassign you because you wear a headscarf in accordance with your religion cannot be justified.

Legal recourse

Your employer would probably not admit that his behavior toward you is discriminatory. However, you have rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and they provide you with the means to seek justice.

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