Religious Discrimination

When Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) was originally passed, it prohibited employment discrimination based on religion, but didn't define the term “religion." Language was added later stipulating that “the term ‘religion’ includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.”

The EEOC also has defined religious practices by workers to “include moral or ethical beliefs about what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.”  Discrimination against atheists is also prohibited.

Courts across the country have determined that the religious protections offered under Title VII can include beliefs an employer wouldn't necessarily associate with any traditional religion. In determining whether an employee's beliefs or practices qualify as “religious,” courts often will ask a series of questions to separate religious beliefs from an opinion or moral code that doesn't fall under Title VII’s protection.