Religious Discrimination: A New Case, an Old Case, and Your Case

Overview of Religious Discrimination in New York

Employees in New York are protected from religious discrimination under two laws: New York’s State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act. Federal law doesn’t kick in until an employer has 15 employees but New York law covers companies with four employees or more.

The function of both laws is largely the same – to prohibit discrimination based on religion in the workplace and offer a remedy for those discriminated against. Under both laws, employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions (firing, demoting, reprimanding) against employees on the basis of their religion. They are also mandated to provide religious accommodations to an employee when doing so would not impose an undue hardship on the employer. These rights only apply to sincerely held religious beliefs.

For example, if it didn’t result in an unreasonable hardship to the employer, an employer would likely be required to allow an employee with a religious mandate to take a brief afternoon break for prayer mandated by their religion. 

A New Case

Things are heating up in New York federal court where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a major religious discrimination case against UPS. The EEOC, a federal agency that helps enforce federal anti-employment discrimination laws, brought suit against UPS on behalf of male employees that were forced to comply with UPS’s look guidelines, which included shaving beards that some including Muslims and Rastafarians wore to comply with their religion. One employee was even allegedly told that “God would understand” if he shaved his beard.

How will this case turn out? An old case gives us some clues.

An Old Case

In an earlier employment law blog, we discussed the case of EEOC v. Abercrombie, which at the time was pending before the United States Supreme Court. As a refresher, that case involved a young woman who had been denied employment at Abercrombie & Fitch due to the headscarf worn to her interview because it conflicting with Abercrombie’s prohibition against head coverings.

The woman wore the headscarf, a hijab, for religious reasons but never expressly disclosed the purpose to her prospective employer. A decision was reached last month, with all but one Justice agreeing with the decision. The Court held that even where “An employer who acts with the motive of avoiding accommodation may violate Title VII even if he has no more than an unsubstantiated suspicion that accommodation would be needed.” The decision, aligned with common sense, shifts a heavier burden to employers with respect to preventing religious discrimination,

Your Case

If you have experienced an unexpected adverse employment event based on your religion or other classification, let the attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg (Phone: 212-JUSTICE) help you evaluate and vindicate your legal rights under New York and Federal anti-discrimination laws.  We approach each case with an empathetic understanding of the emotional impact of such occurrences and a drive to remedy wrongful conduct in the employment context.

2020-09-14T17:53:01+00:00August 4th, 2015|Religious Discrimination|

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I am very amazed and pleased for the wonderful work Diego Barros did for me and our co-workers, speechless to see how wonderful and constructive everything work. First time with Diego Barros and i am totally impressed to have seen how great you have worked for all of us, i will totally recommend you to anybody who is in need of help without at doubt at all in all senses.

Mr. Diego helped me WIN and reach a great settlement. Wages recovered from lack of pay and serious misconducts from employer. He was very informative and easy to talk to every step of the way. Very happy with the settlement I received. He will go for the win and get you what you deserve! If you having problems with employment I give Mr. Diego my full recommendation to get your issues resolved.

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To have Bennitta Joseph who wins high profile cases against companies like Delta is a win for any company. The fact that they equip entrepreneurs like me with tools to compete with fortune 500 is a competitive advantage. If you are a company that deals with people and wants to succeed, hiring her is a must!

This was the first and hopefully my last lawsuit and the process wasn’t what I thought. The patience shown to me (even when I became frustrated) was great. Everyone showed respect, sensitivity, and I’d recommend the firm to everyone. Losing my job set me behind on several bills, but I can now pay them. The situation I went through will help me going forward.

This was the first and hopefully my last lawsuit and the process wasn’t what I thought. The patience shown to me (even when I became frustrated) was great. Everyone showed respect, sensitivity, and I’d recommend the firm to everyone. Losing my job set me behind on several bills, but I can now pay them. The situation I went through will help me going forward.

Bennitta Joseph is committed to Justice. After be wronged at work in 2015, and discriminated against I felt very hopeless and wronged. I felt as though I had no hope standing up to a corporate giant, and no chance of winning. After explaining my case and sharing the facts Bennitta felt differently. She did warn me it would be a long and tough road and that I had to have thick skin. In my experience if you take Bennitta’s lead and trust her legal experience no case it too big, or too small for her…

Me trataron muy bien y estoy satisfecho con el servicio. Inicialmente llamé para unirme a un caso anterior, pero cuando ya era demasiado tarde para unirme a ese caso, estaban felices de luchar por un segundo caso. No pensé que podrían hacer que otro caso funcionara, pero lo hicieron. Aprendí cuáles son mis derechos en cuanto a salario mínimo y tiempo extra y puedo usar esta información en el futuro. Recomiendo mucho la oficina.

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I am very amazed and pleased for the wonderful work Diego Barros did for me and our co-workers, speechless to see how wonderful and constructive everything work. First time with Diego Barros and i am totally impressed to have seen how great you have worked for all of us, i will totally recommend you to anybody who is in need of help without at doubt at all in all senses.

Ysaac G

Mr. Diego helped me WIN and reach a great settlement. Wages recovered from lack of pay and serious misconducts from employer. He was very informative and easy to talk to every step of the way. Very happy with the settlement I received. He will go for the win and get you what you deserve! If you having problems with employment I give Mr. Diego my full recommendation to get your issues resolved. 

D.F.

To have Bennitta Joseph who wins high profile cases against companies like Delta is a win for any company. The fact that they equip entrepreneurs like me with tools to compete with fortune 500 is a competitive advantage. If you are a company that deals with people and wants to succeed, hiring her is a must!

Karleen L.

This was the first and hopefully my last lawsuit and the process wasn’t what I thought.  The patience shown to me (even when I became frustrated) was great.  Everyone showed respect, sensitivity, and I’d recommend the firm to everyone.  Losing my job set me behind on several bills, but I can now pay them.  The situation I went through will help me going forward. 

Isaiah B.

I had an excellent experience with the firm and with Bennitta Joseph as my attorney. Everyone I dealt with was extremely courteous, friendly and very helpful. The settlement will help me financially as I look for a job.

Kate P.

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