Can My Employer Discriminate Against Me Because of My Religious Obligations?

Under state and federal law, potential employers or current employers have no right to discriminate against you because of your religion or your religious obligations.  For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from refusing to hire someone in order to avoid accommodating a religious practice that could be accommodated without undue hardship.  An important aspect of this law is that it applies even if the employee failed to request the religious accommodation at the time of her application for a new job.

There are, however, some limitations on an employer’s obligation to accommodate an employee’s religious needs.  For example, an employer need not accommodate an employee’s religious obligations if those obligations would prevent the employee from performing an essential function of her job.  To put this in context, imagine a retail store looking to hire a sales clerk to provide support to its sales staff on Saturdays — the busiest day for the retail store.  The essential functions of that job, therefore, are working on Saturdays.  Based on the job description, the employer would be justified in not hiring an applicant (or even firing an employee) who could not work on Saturdays because she observed Saturday as the Sabbath.

If you believe your employer is unfairly discriminating against you based on your religious obligations, or you believe you were discriminated against as an applicant due to your religious obligations, you should contact one of our Los Angeles employment attorneys to learn more about your rights.