Most good employers work hard to create the kind of work environments their employees can thrive in. In order to create such an environment there is a tension that must be managed. If policies and restrictions are too stringent, employee morale will decrease and productivity right along with it. On the other hand, if there are not clearly defined and well articulated standards of acceptable behavior, individual employees are susceptible to the kinds of discrimination that finds its way into many workplaces.
By now most employers and employees are well aware of the consequences of sexual harassment, race discrimination, and gender discrimination in work environments. The policies with these types of discrimination are fairly straightforward – don’t do it. One of the individual rights that may be overlooked and more complicated to manage is that of the right to free expression of religion.
Religious Discrimination At Work
Religious discrimination, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “involves treating a person unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.” However “unfavorable treatment” could be seen as a broad term that is relative to the individual and his or her situation. What are the determining factors for “unfavorable treatment”?
Title VII outlines the behaviors that are explicitly discriminatory based on religion. For example, hiring and firing decisions made based strictly on someone’s religious beliefs is clearly discrimination. Harassment because of religion is prohibited. But, again, what about that seemingly gray area where an employee exercising their rights to “freedom of religious expression”? What happens when that free religious expression encroaches on the individual rights of other employees?
Employers Rights vs. Individual Rights To Religious Expression
The law sets forth an idea called “reasonable accommodation”. The EEOC explains it this way:
“The law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden
on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.”
Reasonable accommodations for religious expression could include:
- Flexible scheduling
- Voluntary shift substitutions or swaps
- Job reassignments
- Modifications to workplace policies or practices
Protecting companies’ rights to an orderly workplace
If you have been accused of discriminatory practices based upon the limits you set for religious expression in your workplace, Goldman & Ehrlich can help. Our Chicago employment discrimination lawyers are experienced trial attorneys with vast experience defending civil rights complaints.
We have a thorough knowledge of case law as it pertains to religious discrimination. We work closely with you to develop a clear and convincing defense, negotiate reasonable solutions and, when necessary, litigate in strong defense of your rights.
Contact our Chicago religious discrimination attorneys
If you believe you’ve been subjected to religious discrimination in your workplace, or you represent a business named in a complaint, Goldman & Ehrlich can help. Call us at 312-332-6733 today or contact our Chicago office online.
My Nationality – Discrimination At Work
Chicago’s ethnic history is as deep as it is wide. One of the great melting pots of the world, Chicago draws people from all over the world in pursuit of our own brand of life, liberty, and happiness. Not unlike major metropolitan cities of the same ilk, Chicago has neighborhoods and boroughs where people of like nationality find comfort and community. The confluence of different cultures, religious beliefs, and nationalities is part of what makes our city and our nation great.
What happens when your nationality seems to be an issue in the workplace? Should an employee just accept that his or her nation of origin brings out prejudices and negative energy at work?
What Is “Nation Of Discrimination” At Work?
When an employee is not hired, fired, disciplined, or harassed in the workplace due to his or her nationality, this is nation of origin discrimination. Federal law prohibits this kind of behavior and employees who find themselves in this unfortunate position should enlist the help of a well-established discrimination attorney in order to ensure the fullest protection.
For example, an employer can only require that employees speak fluent English if it is pertinent to effectively performing the duties of the job. An employment decision based on an employee’s foreign accent is also an example of national origin discrimination, unless the accent seriously inhibits job performance.
Types Of Nationality Discrimination
When an employer discriminates against an employee or potential hire and that discrimination seems to be based on national origin, any of the following aspects of employment should be considered (according to the EEOC):
- Job assignments
- Fringe benefits
- Any other terms or conditions of employment
When You Have Been Discriminated Against Based On Your Nationality
Goldman & Ehrlich manages cases of national origin discrimination with sensitivity and a firm resolve to achieve the best outcome for our clients. For more than 25 years, our Chicago discrimination attorneys have fought for diversity in the workplace and defended
businesses from allegations of illegal practices.
Contact Our Chicago National Origin Discrimination Attorneys
Federal Acts That Protect Whistleblowers
A whistleblower is any person who alleges dishonest of illegal activity or exposes misconduct in an organization. Alleged misconduct could fall into one of several categories including:
- Violations of the law
- Egregious regulatory infractions
- Health and safety violations
- Securities fraud
- Other direct threats to public interest.
Here are a few federal acts and statutes that are intended to embolden whistleblowers to speak up when they come across evidence of illegalities in the workplace.
Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989
In 1989, the U.S. federal government passed into law the Whistleblower Protection Act. This law was enacted to protect federal whistleblowers. The act is intended to safeguard against retaliatory actions (or threats of action) towards those who disclose information about illegalities.
False Claims Act
While the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 protects government employees and agents, the False Claims Act helps protect private citizens. When a private citizen has evidence of fraud against the government, the False Claims Act says they may sue a defendant on behalf of the government and share from 15 to 25 percent of the recovered money.
This is one most of you have read about. When white-collar crimes are involved, Sarbanes-Oxley may come into play. This act offers protection for employees who report violations of federal regulations governing securities fraud.
Occupational Safety and Health Act
OSHA has innumerable applications in regards to education and promotion of the health and safety of a workplace. However it also protects employees who complain to their employers, unions, OSHA, or other agencies about unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions.
Lloyd-La Follette Act
Prior to the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912, there was no stopping the authority of powerful government officials in firing a federal employee for speaking up for alleged illegal activities. This act allows civil service employees to give information to Congress or a member of Congress without interference from superiors.
Legal Counsel For Whistleblower Protection
If you are in the process of exposing wrongdoing in the workplace and you are concerned about being protected in the process, don’t hesitate to enlist the advocacy of an experienced Chicago wrongful termination attorney. Our firm is poised to effectively assert your rights to full whistleblower protection should you need them.
When Employers Are Wrongfully Accused of Whistleblower Retaliation
Employees who have filed discrimination complaints or allege illegalities in the workplace do not have the ultimate say so in the duration of their employment. A whistleblower can still be disciplined or fired if he or she is found to be engaging in clearly defined misconduct. It is important, however, that you discuss these actions with your attorney before setting forth the disciplinary actions. Goldman & Ehrlich is prepared to make sure you are not violating any of the above whistleblower laws, should the employee choose to accuse you of such.
Contact our Chicago whistleblower and retaliation law attorneys
If you have engaged in protected activity and feel targeted for undeserved and illegal discipline in the workplace, or you represent a business charged with retaliation toward an employee, call Goldman & Ehrlich at 312-332-6733 or contact our Chicago office online.