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Religious Discrimination

Southern California Lawyers Asserting the Rights of Employees

Religious DiscriminationThe religion that you follow should not disadvantage you in the workplace. It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you due to your religious practices or beliefs. In the event that your employer has discriminated against you based on your religious convictions, it may be possible to recover damages by filing a lawsuit. You should consult the Orange County religious discrimination lawyers at the Serendib Law Firm.

Religious Discrimination

You are protected against religious discrimination in the workplace by federal and state laws. The federal law that prohibits religious discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies only to employers with a minimum of 15 employees. Under federal law, religious practices can include any strong, sincerely held ethical or moral beliefs regarding right and wrong. Both the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (WRFA) also provide protection against religious discrimination.


FEHA applies to employers with a minimum of five employees. Under FEHA, religious discrimination can include any adverse action taken because of religion, religious belief, creed, or religious observance. The WRFA extends additional protections. Under the WRFA, religion includes every aspect of religious creed, belief, practice, and observance, including grooming and religious dress. For example, if you are an Orthodox Jew, your employer should not refuse to place you in a customer-facing position because you wear a yarmulke. Similarly, if you are Sikh, your employer should not refuse to promote you to a management position because you wear a turban. A religious discrimination attorney in Orange County can help you bring a claim if this happens.

In California, your actual religious beliefs, your perceived religious beliefs, and your spouse’s religion are protected characteristics. You should not be treated adversely in the workplace because of what your employer thinks that you believe, whether the beliefs are part of an organized religion or are less traditional. Organized religions include Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism. You are also protected regarding religious creeds, regardless of whether they are affiliated with an organized religion. A creed can include sincerely held observances and practices that run parallel to the beliefs held by people who identify with organized religions.

You can hold your employer accountable if it takes any adverse action against you based on your religious beliefs or practices. Adverse employment actions include termination, demotion, failure to hire, failure to provide training provided to others, denying equal pay, refusal to promote, or denial of benefits. Harassment based on your actual or perceived religion is also prohibited. Our Orange County religious discrimination attorneys can advise you on whether certain conduct is actionable harassment.

Reasonable Accommodations

Additionally, your employer should provide a reasonable accommodation for religious practices and observances if providing this accommodation does not cause an undue hardship. Under FEHA, an employer is supposed to explore any available reasonable alternative method of accommodating a religious observance or belief, including potentially excusing someone from duties that conflict with religious observances or beliefs or allowing those duties to be carried out at another time or by someone else. Generally, a reasonable accommodation is an accommodation that takes away a conflict between the employee’s religious practices and the mandates of work.


Before you can file a lawsuit for damages under federal or state law, you will need to exhaust your administrative remedies. You may need to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you are proceeding under federal law, or with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) if you are proceeding under state law.

If we can establish an employer’s liability, you may be able to obtain damages for back pay, front pay, benefits, bonuses, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. If your employer’s conduct was outrageous, you may be able to obtain punitive damages.

Contact a Religious Discrimination Lawyer in Orange County

Your work on the job should be judged on its own merits, rather than your religious beliefs. If you believe that you were subject to religious discrimination, you should consult the Serendib Law Firm. We represent people in Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Call us at 1-800-LAW-8825 (800-529-8825) or contact us via our online form.

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"Integrity, competency, and compassion! Dimuth Amaratunga has represented me and counseled me in several matters over the last several years, and each time, I have benefited tremendously from his knowledge, his wisdom and his empathy. He is without a doubt an authority in employment law and personal injury. But most importantly, he has compassion and truly focused on getting the best result for his clients. I am a practicing attorney and I wholeheartedly recommend him and his firm!" David J.