What are my rights regarding harassment over my religious practices?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights regarding harassment over my religious practices?

I am a strict Roman Catholic from Poland and Christmas Eve is our day of celebration and fasting. I told my employer this and he laughed it off. He told me I have to work but he will consider letting me leave early if it’s slow (I work retail). Well now I’m currently at work and he is continually listing off food over our radios because he knows I’m fasting. I am considering leaving because he is making me feel uncomfortable and I believe I have the right to not be working today.

Asked on December 24, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

What you describe about does appear to be religious based employment discrimination: comments made to make you feel uncomfortable about fasting; denying you time off for a religious observance (though note: the employer doesn't need to give you *extra* time off; they can require you to give up another weekend or holiday day or otherwise make up the time--the religious accommodation is to let you move your days/time off around, not to get more). IF you actually are let go, suspended or demoted over this, or if the harassment becomes an ongoing thing, it would likely be worthwhile to speak to the federal EEOC or your state civil/equal rights agency. If it's an uncomfortable day or two, it's not worth it: you wouldn't get any compensation for that.

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