It is illegal to discriminate against an employee because of that employee’s religion under Title VII.
“Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.”
Federal law requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless it would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business. An employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.
An employer must have 15 employees for either Title VII or the Texas Labor Codes provisions protecting religious discrimination to apply.
Like other forms of discrimination, it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee who has filed a charge of discrimination or otherwise opposes any employment practices that discriminates because of their religion. “Employees have a right to be free from retaliation for their opposition to discrimination or their participation in an EEOC proceeding by filing a charge, testifying, assisting, or otherwise participating in an agency proceeding.”
Potential damages under Title VII for religious discrimination are:
- Back pay – Consists of wages, salary and fringe benefits you would have earned during the period of discrimination from termination to trial
- Compensatory damages – Allowed for future loss, emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life
There are limits to what you can recover for religious discrimination. The limits are determined according to the size of your employer. The limits on damages are as follows:
- Up to 100 employees: $50,000
- 101-200 employees: $100,000
- 201-500 employees: $200,000
- 500+ employees: $300,000
If you bring a claim under Title VII, you must first file a charge of discrimination with either the Texas Workforce Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. There are very specific deadlines from which you must file your charge of discrimination, and you must file your charge of discrimination before you can file a lawsuit.
If you think your religion is the reason for your employment discrimination, please contact a Houston Religious Discrimination Attorney at Herbert & McClelland LLP.