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Religious Discrimination in the Work Place

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Filings for religious discrimination have been on the rise during the past few years and it does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. Nationwide fillings of religious discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have more than double from "1388 in 1992 to 2880 in 2007" and fillings by Muslims have seen the largest increase of any religious group from 1997-2007, an increased from 398-909 in 2009. (The Delaware Employment Law Blog).

Discrimination is a behavior that occurs when members of a social identity group are treated unfairly or unequally because of their group membership to included religious affiliation. Further defined religious discrimination is the unfavorable treatment of an employee or job applicant because of their religious believes or practices. Religious discrimination can also involve the unfair treatment of a person who is married to someone who practices a certain belief or their association to a particular religious organization or group. Religious discrimination can be delineated as structural discrimination, this occurs when organizations such as corporations, unintentionally discriminate against by their groups by their policies or practices. For example the five day work week is common in many countries to include the United States and it is most accepted in Christian countries. The five day work week was enacted to allow employees to attend service on Sunday since the majority of Christian attend services on Sunday but for corporations who follow these policies they inadvertently discriminate against the Hindus and Muslims employees because there religious days are determined by the lunar calendar and change from to year to year. Laws have been passed to protect individuals of traditional organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam etc... and also to persons who hold sincere religious ethical and moral values.

Since the attacks of September 11 and even further, there has been more discrimination against individuals of certain religious groups such a Muslim and Hindus (due to lack of knowledge and therefore unable to distinguish one group from another many Hindus are confused with Muslim and as a result have been discriminated against); most of the discrimination against religious groups have been based on fear, distrust and lack of familiarity with their practices and culture. The distrust and hatred toward religious groups are also based on the acts of some members of that particular group, for example discrimination against the Catholics and the faith have stemmed from the tremendous rise in the public cases of the molestations of children by priests, in the Muslim religion we have seen that discrimination has stemmed from the acts of a few Islamic fundamentalist such as the attacks of September 11, the attacks on Fort Hood by a Muslim Army officer and because of the rhetoric and hatred spread by Islamic fundamentalist around the world and in the United States. People have taken notices and have been shocked and scared by these acts and as a result many have developed biases against entire religions groups because of the actions of a few, unfortunately those few that practice their religion in peace and do not believe and or condone those activities have and are paying the price.

Religious discrimination is characterized in two types or possible forms. The first is the discrimination that is based on religious faith of the individual or their affiliation to religious groups. The second discrimination form is when an employer's fails to make reasonable accommodations to the employee's religious practices and observances. More often the discrimination against an employee is determined by the employer's motivation.

How our judicial system does decides what religion is? Under Title VII and the Civil rights Act of 1964, they both that protect individuals from religious discrimination as well as discrimination based on race, color and creed. They define religion which includes all aspects of religious observances practice and believes, not only the traditional organized religions, but new believes that are uncommon and not part of the formal church such as Wickens and Rastafarians. These types of religious believers may seem illogical to some and the religion is practiced only by a small number of individuals or followers. Under Title VII a believer of a certain religion is classified as such if he or she is sincere in it, "meaningful believe that fulfills a place to that filled by ...God and religious to that persons own scheme of things".

Personal preferences, economic philosophies, social or political views are not viewed as religious beliefs and not protected by Title VII. Religious believes are those that concern ideas about life, purpose, humanity's place in the universe and death. Moral or ethical believes that asks what is right or wrong and that are held with the strength of traditional religious views.

What constitutes religious practices and observances? Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, includes the following examples. Praying, attending worship services, wearing or displaying religious symbols or objects like the cross, or the Star of David. Adhering to dietary rules is critical in some religions such a Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Catholicism are critical tenets for instance in some religions practitioners are not allow them to eat pork, for others it must be killed and prepared in a certain manner, no meat on Fridays; A Muslim woman requesting to wear the head scarf; a Hindu wearing the bindi (the forehead marking); an Atheist who does not want to participate in a religious invocation at work and needs to be excused; a Christian who believes that working on the Sabbath is prohibited. Religious expressions like this proselytizing or refraining from activities that some may find offensive to their practices. There are those who will engage in certain activities based on religious practices and others just for secular reasons. There are those that believe they are to refrain from eating meat, like Seventh day Adventist and the vegetarianism who participate in these religious practices. Then there are those that are vegetarians for health reasons, save the animals or the planet. These are secular reasons and not based on religious beliefs, so it all depends on the employee's motivation and not the nature of such activities and therefore it becomes a case by case situation in deciding if it is religious or not. As we can see the laws that define religion and enforced by the EEOC are very broadly and they are not limited to the mainstream religions, but also to observances and practices held by ones sincere believe.

Employees have certain rights and responsibilities Under Title VII, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and various other Federal



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