Religious freedom is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and is the first one that is listed in the First Amendment. Religious liberty includes the right to practice a religion of your choice while enjoying all of the privileges and benefits of society. Religious discrimination is prohibited in multiple settings, including education, work, housing, public accommodations, and others. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler have compiled some information about religious discrimination in different settings.
Religious discrimination in public education
While private religious schools can function under a single religion, public schools cannot. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, schools must offer the same educational opportunities to all students regardless of their religious beliefs or practices. Illegal discrimination in education can occur in all areas, including extracurricular activities, classroom activities, hiring and other aspects of employment for faculty members, and the distribution of resources. An example of religious discrimination at a school can include refusing to allow a student to wear a hijab because of a policy against wearing hats when other students have been given an exception. It can also include allowing students to meet in a classroom for a Bible club before or after school while refusing the request of other students to meet in a classroom before or after school to study the Koran.
Religious discrimination at work
Workplace discrimination based on religion is also prohibited under state and federal law. The prohibition against religious discrimination extends to all facets of employment from interviewing and hiring to terminations and layoffs. Employers cannot discriminate against an employee for any of the terms and conditions of his or her employment. Some examples of unlawful religious discrimination at work might include being forced under threat of firing to work on a Saturday when the employee is a Seventh-day Adventist. It can also include telling Jewish employees that they cannot wear their yarmulkes at work.
Religious discrimination in housing
The Fair Housing Act prohibits religious discrimination in all aspects of housing, including selling homes and renting homes. People are not allowed to refuse to sell or rent a home to people because of their religions. The terms and conditions of a rental or sale must also not discriminate against potential renters or buyers because of their religious beliefs.
Public facilities and accommodations
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination by public facilities and accommodations. This prohibition applies to restaurants, hotels, and stores. For example, a hotel cannot refuse to rent a room to someone because of his or her religion. A restaurant is similarly prohibited from refusing to serve someone simply because of his or her religious beliefs.
Zoning and landmarking laws
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 protects religious groups from zoning and landmarking laws that place an undue burden on the free exercise of religious beliefs by houses of worship, individuals, and other religious institutions if there is not a compelling justification by the government. An example might include denying building permits to specific religious congregations.
Religious liberty in prisons
Prisons are also required to allow prisoners to exercise their religious beliefs unless the government has a compelling interest in denying them. This can include offering kosher meals when there are Jewish prisoners or refusing to allow certain religious groups to meet in the prison’s chapel.
Get help from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler
If you have been the victim of religious discrimination, you may have legal rights. The anti-discrimination lawyers at Swartz Swidler might help you to understand your rights. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form.