Articles Posted in Religious Discrimination

The holiday season means many different things to people: family, friends, food, a general sense of merriment, and so on. It also means that many employers will host holiday parties for their employees, managers, executives, and perhaps clients and customers. The “office holiday party” has a reputation, largely thanks to movies and television, as an unabashedly wild event free from customary rules and restrictions. It is our duty as New York City employment attorneys to remind everyone that the rules still apply, however wild the party might be. Harassment on the basis of any protected category is unlawful. We believe that holiday parties should be fun for everybody, meaning that the fun should never come at anyone’s expense.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. Other federal statutes prohibit age and disability discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that this includes harassment of any employee based on these factors, whether it comes from someone in a supervisory position or not. An employer may be liable in either situation if they are aware of the harassment and fail to make reasonable efforts to address it. The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) protects a much broader range of categories than Title VII, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

The EEOC has stated that isolated incidents, unless they are particularly severe, do not constitute violations of Title VII or other statutes. This generally applies to violations of the NYCHRL as well. Multiple acts of harassment become a violation of antidiscrimination law when they create a hostile work environment, or otherwise interfere with an employee’s ability to do their jobs.
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In a recently filed New York religious discrimination case, a New York woman claims that she was subjected to discrimination and not provided with a fair chance of employment due to her religious beliefs and the fact that she wore a scarf that covered her head to a job interview.According to a news report covering the recently filed case, the woman applied for a job as a customer service representative at a check-cashing business. Later, the woman received a call from the manager, inviting her to come in for an interview. When the woman arrived, she was wearing a head scarf.

In the lawsuit, the woman claims that the manager immediately turned hostile when he saw that she arrived wearing the scarf. The manager reportedly asked the woman, “Are you going to be wearing that thing? … Because you will not be able to work with that on. Or will that be a problem for you?”

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