Religious tolerance is a fundamental American value that is reflected in labor laws that regulate employment in the state of Missouri and in the rest of the nation. While discriminating against employees because of their religion is illegal, many employers still engage in the practice. Whether your employer knowingly or unknowingly discriminated against you, an employment discrimination attorney in Jackson County, Missouri can help you understand whether you have grounds to initiate a lawsuit.

What Is Discrimination in the Workplace?

Discrimination can be defined as the unequal treatment of a group of people based on negative biases towards characteristics they purportedly share. Whether or not the individual target actually exhibits those characteristics is irrelevant. Discrimination within the workplace can have a tremendously negative effect on the individual’s career and other aspects of his or her life. Examples of workplace discrimination include:

  • Refusing to hire members of a certain group
  • Teasing and harassing
  • Prohibiting members of certain groups from having equal access to company resources
  • Providing unequal pay

Several state and federal statutes exist to protect employees against workplace discrimination. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. This act was followed by further legislation protecting individuals against age discrimination and other forms of biased treatment. In Missouri, both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights work to enforce anti-discrimination legislation.

When Is Workplace Discrimination Based on Religion?

Regardless of your religious affiliation, you are legally entitled to equal access to job opportunities and equal treatment within the workplace. Some forms of religious discrimination that occur in the workplace are similar to the kinds of discrimination other groups might face. For example, religious biases could be the basis for unlawfully terminating an employee, passing over an employee for a promotion, or reducing an employee’s responsibilities.

Other forms of workplace discrimination are experienced only on the basis of religion. Some cases involve the circulation of materials reflecting negative beliefs about a religious group. In other situations, an individual might be prohibited from wearing the attire required by his or her faith.

Reasonable Accommodation

Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to allow all employees to express their religious beliefs, provided that the accommodations do not put undue hardship on the company. For example, an employer might be obligated to allow Jewish employees to wear a yarmulke despite prohibiting other forms of headwear in the office.

Company policies that would require an employee to violate his or her faith are also illegal unless allowing the employee to exercise his or her beliefs would be unreasonably detrimental to the company or to the other employees.


Companies and nonprofit organizations that are entirely owned by one religious group are permitted to require their members to adhere to the practices of their faith. The vast majority of religious discrimination cases involve secular companies that are subject to anti-discrimination legislation.

How Should You Respond to Religious Discrimination in the Workplace?

Religious discrimination is a harmful form of disrespect that should not be tolerated. If your employer has treated you unfairly because of your religion, you may have grounds to sue them for the income you missed out on, the damage done to your career, and the emotional cost of the incident.

Talk to an Employment Discrimination Attorney

Going up against your employer will feel less intimidating when you are working with an attorney who has a track record of holding large companies accountable to employment law. Your lawyer’s first task will be to help you understand if you have grounds for a case and where you might find sources of evidence. While discrimination can occur in subtle ways that are difficult to prove, you should always speak with a lawyer before assuming you cannot back your claim.

Report the Incident

Your lawyer will likely have specific recommendations on how you should report the incident, which may include notifying the HR department of your company. In many cases, contacting HR creates a valuable record of the incident that can prevent your employer from arguing that they acted against you unknowingly.

You will likely also need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. These two organizations investigate claims of workplace discrimination. If the investigation reveals substantial evidence that your employer may have violated The Civil Rights Act or related legislation, you will receive a notice of the right to sue. Obtaining this notice is legally necessary before you initiate a lawsuit.

Assess Your Damages

Being forced to work in a hostile environment as a result of your religion, experiencing an unlawful termination, and/or dealing with limited opportunities can have extremely detrimental effects on your life. Your attorney will work with you to determine which of your losses are eligible for compensation and how to document them for the claim.

In addition to your salary, your unearned vacation days, health benefits, and other aspects of your compensation package can all increase the value of your claim. Beyond material losses, you can claim compensation for the emotional harm you suffered and any psychological treatments that ensued. If you had to find a new job, you may be able to specify whether you prefer reinstatement or compensation for the investment you made in your job search.

Determine If You Have Grounds for an Employer Retaliation Claim

Quite often, discrimination cases and employer retaliation claims go hand in hand. Employer retaliation includes the act of firing or punishing an employer for reporting employment law violations. If you were terminated because you reported religious discrimination to HR, you could submit a separate employer retaliation claim.

How Can You Prove Religious Discrimination?

While your employer may have tried to cover their tracks, there are often ways to shed light on religious discrimination. Company records could reveal a pattern of preference for one group over another, while correspondence between you and your employer could indicate that there was no valid reason to take action against you. In many cases, co-workers are willing to come forward as witnesses. During your initial meeting, your attorney will discuss some possible ways to conduct an investigation.

Schedule a Free Consultation in Jackson County, Missouri

Having a candid conversation with a knowledgeable lawyer is the first step towards standing up for yourself against religious discrimination. At our law firm, we ardently believe that any form of discrimination is unacceptable, especially in the workplace. We consistently win multi-million dollar cases against large corporations who thought they could get away with illegal practices. To contact our attorneys, call (816) 720-7917.

Discrimination can take egregious forms like outright firing and the use of hateful speech. Alternatively, it can subtly infiltrate company practices by affecting the number of hours a given employee receives or creating an environment that is generally uncomfortable. If you would like to discuss your experience with a compassionate employment discrimination attorney in Jackson County, Missouri, contact Holman Schiavone, LLC.