Skip to main content

Religious Discrimination


Stereotypes concerning religion have grown since the globalization of the business world.  Never until lately, has the workforce been so diverse.  With this diversity has come some challenges in the area of stereotypes and sensitivity towards others.  We must all remember that this great country was founded on the basis of the freedom of religion, to have or even not to have.

 Employer Responsibilities

An employee’s religion should not have any reflection on his/her work performance.  The right to religion goes back as far as the beginning of this country and the First Amendment, but the legal reference would be the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This amendment forbids employers from discriminating against any employee in any way, due to religious preferences.

This also forbids employers from any disparate treatment.  Disparate treatment is defined as any treatment of any employee that is less than other employees.  This applies in instances from interviewing for employment until employment is terminated.  For example, giving everyone who practices Christmas a bonus, and not giving one to those who do not.

HR and Best Practices

The HR compliance team needs to thoroughly inspect the company policies for cases of disparate wording and policies.    Best practices begin in the design of the policies for the day to day operations of the business.  Ensure that all policies, holiday observances, bonuses, etc. are equal to every religion represented by the work force of today. The employer has a duty to accommodate everyone.

Some of the areas of focus should be:

  • Hiring practices
  • Promotion policies
  • Policies that employees from reasonable accommodation


Elephant in the Room

Stereotypes are often based on misinformation and ignorance.  People that do not know anything about a religion, have many opinions about that religion.   Religion is a deeply personal issue and can differ greatly between employees.  An employer must accommodate all these different ideas and beliefs.

In the 80s and 90s, religion was not as popular due to science growing in popularity.  The employees that practiced were thought to be “Bible thumpers” who would push their beliefs on everyone else.  After 9/11, Muslims were the target of increased religious discrimination.  Truly, these stereotypes are based on unfounded ideas and opinions and have no place in the workplace.

 Overcoming Stereotypes

Overcoming religious stereotypes is just as challenging as other stereotypes.  Because a religious preference is a deep belief, it is hard to overcome false ideas about other religions.  Employers must exert the extra effort to support an inclusive work culture.

Ensure that all major religious holidays are recognized on the company calendar and get equal attention.  Make informational pamphlets available to all employees through HR.  Require that all bonuses occur at a time that they are not construed as holiday gifts. The best way to accomplish the goal is through education and leadership.


Copyright Notice 

Copyright © 2015 by Global Courseware, Inc.

Used under licensing permission