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Could you lose a promotion due to religious discrimination?

If you have been working at the same company with room for upward movement for several years, you may feel you are due for a promotion. Some people who find themselves waiting for years or longer for a promotion which they feel they deserve may start to wonder if there is a specific reason why the offer never seems to come.

Employees who have strong religious beliefs could even start wondering if religious bias is a factor behind their lack of promotion. If you suspect such a situation, how should you handle this issue?

Your religion and the public

You may have mostly been involved in behind-the-scenes work with your job up to now. A promotion may mean you would become a sort of manager who would work directly with both clients and guests. If your manager holds back on promoting you to work with clients because, for example, you wear religiously significant clothing, this is discrimination.

The rules according to Title VII

If your manager believes your religious garments or accessories might offend some clients — hence the reluctance to promote you — he or she may be guilty of job segregation; that is, he or she prefers to keep you in a position with no customer contact. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits this kind of segregation. It does not matter if you follow a lesser-known faith. Keeping you from interacting with the public because of your religious preferences is a form of discrimination.

What to do

If the company is large enough to have a human resources department, you can speak to a representative about your concerns, especially if the promotion actually goes to someone else and that person is demonstrably less qualified for the position than you are. There should be company policies that prohibit discrimination of all kinds according to Title VII. If there is no human resources department as such, you have every right to discuss the situation with the owner of your company. A promotion is an important next step in your career. Keep in mind that you can always seek a legal resolution to the issue of discrimination if those within your company fail to pursue the matter in a satisfactory fashion.



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