With the nation’s economy steadily improving, more people are entering the workforce. More importantly, they are looking for higher paying jobs. Unfortunately, scores of applicants may be denied employment because of their religious beliefs. Essentially, their religious practices may be mocked or ridiculed, or their religious dress may be viewed as inappropriate for the workplace even before an applicant may conform to rules.
In some instances, restrictions on religious dress may violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees and prospective employees because of their religion, religious beliefs or practices. The Act also covers employees provided by staffing agencies who work for third party companies.
Problems arise when employers force dress code requirements onto low level employees whose economic situations prevent them from speaking up for themselves. These employees are particularly vulnerable because their financial obligations (i.e. monthly rent, children) prevent them from exercising their rights.
Even worse, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation to those who seek an exception to an employer’s dress code unless it causes an undue hardship for the employer or a safety hazard for other employees.
Because of this, it is important for prospective applicants, as well as new employees, to understand their rights when it comes to religious dress. It can mean the difference between maintaining needed employment and being wrongfully terminated and enduring unneeded financial upheaval.
The preceding is provided for informational purposes and is not legal advice.