The United States has long upheld itself as a cultural melting pot. However, in recent years some contend the pot is nearing its boiling point as conservative politicians and media outlets continue to take aim at immigrants and minority groups. Muslims in the United States have especially been targeted as some continue to perpetuate misinformation and fears about individuals who are part of the Islam faith.

In 2012, the state of California passed the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act which explicitly bars employers from discriminating against an employee based upon his or her religion. The CWRFA also requires employers to accommodate employees of varying faiths with regard to religious practices and observances.

 

Additionally, the religious freedoms of U.S. employees are protected under both VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. In addition to providing religious accommodation for employees, these employment laws protect employees from enduring a hostile work environment or some type of retaliation or wrongful termination based upon one’s religious beliefs.

Despite these and other laws providing for the protection of religious rights in the U.S., during 2013, the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations received a total of 444 complaints related to harassment in the workplace and by law enforcement and immigration officials.

Of those complaints related to workplace discrimination, the majority or 28 percent related to acts of harassment. Twenty percent of complaints from Muslim American employees related to retaliation or wrongful termination claims and 14 percent detailed an employer’s failure to accommodate an employees’ religious practices and observances.

From co-workers who make off-hand comments related to terrorism to a manager who forbids a Muslim woman wearing a hijab from working directly with the public, acts of religious harassment and discrimination against Muslim Americans are illegal and should not be tolerated. Individuals who are or have suffered acts of religious discrimination in the workplace may choose to discuss their case with an attorney.

Source: KCET.org, “Are California’s Laws Prohibiting Workplace Religious Discrimination Enough?,” Sept. 15, 2014

Council on American-Islamic Relations, “2014 Civil Rights Report: The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in California,” 2014