New York City Launches Campaign to Educate Muslims About Their Rights Under NYC Employment Statutes

Statue of LibertyNew York City is truly diverse, providing a home to millions of people of different religions, races, ethnicities, and cultures. This diversity helps make New York City a destination for people from all over the country and all over the world. When one group suffers from discrimination, harassment, and other disparate treatment because of their religion, race, or ethnicity, all of New York City suffers. We have entered a difficult time in this country, with widespread reports of harassment and even assaults against people of the Muslim faith or people perceived to be of the Muslim faith. This type of treatment can also enter the workplace, but anti-discrimination laws at the federal, state, and city levels assist employees in asserting their rights. A campaign launched by the New York City Mayor’s Office and the Commission on Human Rights, “I Am Muslim NYC,” seeks to educate people about city law.

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) offers more protections for workers than almost any other employment statute in the country. It not only prohibits religious and racial discrimination but also expressly addresses employers’ duty to accommodate reasonable requests related to religious observances. In connection with its campaign, the city has issued a fact sheet outlining the ways the NYCHRL protects Muslims and others from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations like restaurants and hotels. It includes three important points about employment discrimination.

1. Discrimination:  Like Title VII and the NYSHRL, city law bans religious discrimination in the workplace, as well as retaliation against employees who report such activities. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(a).

2. Reasonable accommodations:  Employees have the right to request accommodations from the employer for their religious observances or practices. Employers must grant employee requests unless doing so would impose an “undue hardship” on their business. Id. at § 8-107(3).

3. Religious holidays:  Employers may not require employees “to remain at [their] place of employment during any day or days or portion thereof that…[they] observe[] as a Sabbath or other holy day.” Id. They may, however, require employees to make up the time missed from work at a later date.

Several recent court decisions have directly addressed religious discrimination targeting Muslims in the workplace. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim job applicant who alleged religious discrimination. She applied to a retail store that declined to hire her because she wore a hijab as part of her religious practice, which they claimed violated a company policy. The court ruled that this violated Title VII, even though she did not specifically inform the defendant of her religious practices. EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, 575 U.S. ___ (2015).

The decision conflicts with a Second Circuit case holding that a person must inform their employers of any religious beliefs or practices that conflict with their job duties. Baker v. The Home Depot, 445 F.3d 541, 546 (2d Cir. 2006). It might overrule that requirement. EEOC v. United Health Programs of America, Inc et al., No. 1:14-cv-03673, mem. & order (E.D.N.Y., Sep. 30, 2016).

The experienced and skilled religious discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates advocate for the rights of job applicants, employees, and former employees in New York City. We help our clients assert claims for religious discrimination and other unlawful practices under the laws of New York City, the State of New York, and the United States of America. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

New York City Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 27, 2017

Federal Court Rules on Gender Identity Employment Discrimination Claim, New York Employment Attorney Blog, December 8, 2016

New York City Law Regarding Caregiver Discrimination May Leave Questions Regarding Reasonable Accommodations, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 14, 2016

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