It can be a worrying time if you have different religious beliefs. You may feel the risk of harassment is higher than ever, even if there is hope that inbuilt religious discrimination in society and workplaces will be addressed.

What does the law say about religious discrimination in the workplace?

Both federal and Texas state laws prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace. Federal law protects you under the Civil Rights Act, state law under Texas Labor Code Chapter 21. However, they only apply if your employer has 15 or more employees.

What counts as religious discrimination?

Harassment based on your faith

Making jokes or comments related to your beliefs or how you dress because of your religion.

Treating you differently because of your religion

Whether hiring, firing or in everyday matters, an employer cannot treat you different due to your faith.

Failure to make accommodations for your faith

Employers must act within reason, providing it does not cause them hardship or infringe on other employees’ rights.

Allowing you a day off to celebrate your religious holiday or allowing prayer breaks would typically be seen as reasonable. So would your right to dress and wear your hair or beard in accordance with your belief unless there is a safety reason not to.

If you have suffered religious discrimination at work, or suspect you may have, it is crucial to understand the legal options that are available to you. You can file a complaint with either the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division (TWC-CRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They work together, so you only need to file once. If this does not get a result, you could take your claim to court.