Your Rights at Work this Holiday Season

Employment Attorneys Serving Northern and Central New Jersey

Since Hanukkah is coming to an end, Christmas is just about here, and Kwanza is just around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time to tell you all a bit about your rights as religious observers in the workplace.

The most important thing to know is that under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, employers are required to prevent and/or cure harassment and are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their religion. This means that, in addition to other terms or conditions of your employment, getting a job, keeping a job, or getting a raise, a promotion, or benefits cannot be conditioned upon you violating or forgoing your religious practices or observances.

In addition, employers are required to reasonably accommodate their employees’ religious observances or practices. This means that an employee cannot be required to work on his/her Sabbath or denied leave taken to accommodate religious observances. Keep in mind that, while employers are required to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs, they are not required to give extra, paid time off. Any absence from work for religious practices must be made up another time (at the employer’s discretion), charged against any leave with pay ordinarily granted, or, if none is remaining, treated as leave without pay. Other reasonable accommodations may include permitting clothing or facial hair required by an employee’s religion.

Employers are not required, however, to provide such accommodations if they would cause undue hardship on the business. An accommodation is an undue hardship when it prevents an employee from performing the essential functions of his/her job, when it is unreasonably difficult or expensive or unreasonably interferes with workplace safety and efficiency, or when it is a violation of a collective bargaining agreement.

Although this time of year is typically referred to as the “holiday season,” the laws with respect to religious discrimination provide protection all year long, no matter what religion you practice. If you are being refused religious accommodations and believe you are being discriminated against based on your religion contact an attorney at Green Savits to further advise you on your rights.