What do a crucifix, dreadlocks and hijab all have in common? If you are wearing them because of your religion, an employer cannot stop you from sporting them in the workplace, except in certain circumstances.
Religious discrimination in the workplace is outlawed under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It applies to any employer with more than 15 staff members. As part of this law, employers must accommodate a worker’s religious beliefs, as long as it does not cause undue hardship. Part of this includes accommodating what an employee chooses to wear.
What you can have on the job
You can show your faith or comply with the rules laid down by your religion in various ways. How you wear your hair, how you dress and what adornments you have on can be an essential part of subscribing to the religion you believe in. Here are some examples:
- Adornments: Some Christians choose to wear a cross as a sign of their faith.
- Hair: While many people call anyone with dreadlocks a rasta, Rastafarianism is actually a religion, and for its followers, dreadlocks are a vital part. Hassidic Jews are another religion in which congregants wear their hair in a particular fashion.
- Beards: Sikhs, Jews and Muslims may wear beards as part of their beliefs.
- Dress: Perhaps the most discussed form of clothing related to religion is the Muslim hijab. Yet, it is not the only one. Some Pentecostal churches forbid women from wearing pants. Sikh men usually keep their hair inside a turban.
If your employer refuses to allow you to dress according to your religious beliefs, they may be guilty of religious discrimination. Seek help from an experienced employment law attorney to understand your legal options.