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Is your supervisor reassigning you because of your religion?

Perhaps you wear a headscarf at work because of your religion. This has never been a problem in the three years you have been with the car dealership.

You work with the public processing payments, but your new supervisor has other plans for you. He is reassigning you to the bookkeeping office where you will have little or no interaction with customers. Are you a victim of religious discrimination?

Religious bias

The law prohibits workplace discrimination in any form. Your supervisor may wish to keep you out of the public eye because he fears that there may be religious bias against you that would hurt business. However, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids this kind of practice; that is, moving an employee into a non-customer contact role because of real or perceived customer preference.

Reasonable accommodation

Under the law, your employer must “reasonably accommodate” your religious practices and beliefs, unless doing so would create a financial burden or another kind of undue hardship on the company. Accommodation may include scheduling changes, shift substitutions or modifications to company policies or practices. It also includes allowing dress and grooming practices that reflect someone’s religious beliefs. Your employer must make reasonable accommodation for you unless that would compromise workplace safety, decrease productivity or infringe upon the rights of other employees.

Talking it over

If the decision to reassign you is not a promotion but only a lateral move with no increase in pay, you are right to be skeptical of the reason your supervisor has for initiating the change. You have every right to ask for an explanation. If the answer is not satisfactory, you can take the matter to human resources. If you reach a dead-end there, explore your legal options. Federal law not only forbids discrimination against employees who follow traditional religions but also, those who hold sincere ethical, moral or religious beliefs.

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