Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act and federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit employers from intentionally or unintentionally discriminating against employees based on their religion, or from allowing religious harassment to occur. Working conditions can and should accommodate employees’ religious expression whenever practicable, and respect religious practices when asked by employees with sincerely held religious beliefs.
“Religion” is broadly interpreted under the law and includes all aspects of religious practices, beliefs, and observances. The law recognizes organized religions such as Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, etc., and also extends to protecting religious beliefs that are not widely held, known, or followed, subscribed to by only a small number of people, not part of a formal religion, or are new or emerging.
People are protected from discrimination based on religious beliefs or practices in all aspects of their employment. Religious discrimination can take the form of:
- being refused an accommodation based on a religious belief, as long as the accommodation does not pose an undue hardship on the employer, as defined by law
- quid pro quo harassment, where employees must conform to a religious practice as a condition of the job
- a hostile or abusive work environment, due to severe and pervasive conduct or statements which are based on religion
- retaliation against an employee based on their request for a religious accommodation, or for filing a complaint about religious harassment or discrimination
- restricting religious attire to be worn in the workplace, such as hijab or yarmulkes
- unwelcome questions, inquiries, conversation, and/or criticism about another person’s religious practices and/or ideology
The law permits reasonable allowances for employers who are religious in nature, such as churches.
Resources on religious discrimination
More information about the laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion:
More resources about religious discrimination and accommodations:
- Vermont Law Help’s Religious Discrimination information
- What You Should Know About Workplace Religious Accommodation, EEOC
- Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities, EEOC
- Questions and Answers for Employees: Workplace Rights of Employees Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern, EEOC
- EEOC Religious Discrimination Charge Statistics
If you believe you may be a victim of workplace harassment or discrimination on the basis of any legally protected category or categories, find more information: