What can I do about religious discrimination in the workplace?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do about religious discrimination in the workplace?

My current employer had said the following to me, “While I will honor and respect your religious beliefs, I am wondering why you have worn your hijab headscarf in our all-female office the past 2 days. Is it for a religious holiday?” It has been killing me inside and want to leave this office ASAP but I’m not sure if I can collect unemployment. She did not fire me but I feel singled out and it is so hard for me to come in to work everyday.

Asked on February 27, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you believe you have suffered religious discrimination or harassment, you could either file a complaint with the state department of labor, or you could speak with a private attorney about suing. However, since you have not suffered any negative job action, you probably could not collect much compensation from a lawsuit--you might easily spend more on it than you recover.

Also, note that while discrimination or harassment is illegal, that is judged by the standard of what a reasonable person would find offensive. Also, the law does not bar simply asking questions about religion, if they are not otherwise offensive or harassing. From what you write, there is reason to doubt that the question and comment you describe would in fact be considered harassment or discrimation. The question was stated in a respectful way; it seems to have been asked only once; and it appears to have been motivated by curiousity, not ill motive.

Finally, even if you have suffered harassment or discrimination, you may not normally quit and receive unemployment. When harassed or discriminated, your recourse is to sue or file a complaint with the labor department. If you quit or resign in these circumstances, it would almost certainly be considered a voluntary separation from work, which makes you ineligible for unemployment.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption