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Are Atheists Protected from Religious Discrimination in the Workplace?

equalityAtheism and Religous Discrimination in the Workplace

Most people know they are entitled to protection from religious discrimination in the workplace, but what if you don’t practice a religion? Do any of the current laws against discrimination in the workplace protect you if you are a non-believer?

People have strong opinions about religion and many people mistakenly believe everyone shares their views. Even if their specific practice of religion is different, many people assume that others believe in something and they view it as a guiding principle when making decisions.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of people, many of whom might share workspaces, who do not abide by any particular religious or spiritual belief.

So what happens if you consider yourself an atheist or you don’t align yourself with any particular spiritual belief, organized or otherwise, and you are treated differently in the workplace because of it?

Is that religious discrimination?

Mistreatment in the Workplace Linked to Religion

Though you might not consider yourself religious or you adhere to an atheist lifestyle, if you are treated differently in the workplace for any reason linked to religion it could legally be considered religious discrimination. Protections against religious discrimination extend to both believers and non-believers.

Nobody has the right to impose their religious beliefs on you, be they a different version of what you believe or completely different altogether.

Employers may not treat employees poorly because they don’t hold any religious beliefs.

Though it might seem unusual to include atheism in with other religious beliefs, the law must do so to protect everyone equally. Religious employees cannot be favored over their non-religious counterparts.

Proving Your Case against Religious Discrimination

Keep in mind, the same issues can arise in cases involving atheism as do in all cases of discrimination. You’ll need to be able to prove that the actions that were perpetrated against you occurred because of your status as a non-believer. A lot must go into building a case in your favor but working with an experienced attorney who understands discrimination laws can help.

If you believe any recent actions against you could be linked to your status as an atheist or in any way religious discrimination, ask yourself the following questions:

• Have you recently expressed your opinion about a religious belief in the workplace?
• Do you speak openly about your religious beliefs on social media?
• Were you recently asked any questions about your religious beliefs by a co-worker or supervisor?
• Has there been a drastic change in how you’re treated or evaluated and did the change come after you revealed your religious beliefs?
• Did you choose not to participate in a recent event in the workplace because of its religious connotations?

In any of these cases, there’s a good chance you have a case for religious discrimination, but if your situation doesn’t fit into any of these categories there could still be a problem. Every case is different, which is why it’s so important to have a legal expert assess your situation.

To learn more about the laws that exist to protect against discrimination, check out this information from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If you’d like to speak to someone about treatment you received in the workplace after it became known you did not share the same religious beliefs as your co-workers or you have any other reason to believe you’re a victim of discrimination, we can help. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.


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