You Be The Judge: Religious Discrimination Video Case Analysis
In the “You Be The Judge: Religious Discrimination” video a case was presented in which a worker was discriminated against due to religious reasons. The worker needed to wear a hijab for religious purposes. The worker was not allowed to wear the hijab due to company dress code policies. The judge ruled that this was a case of discrimination due to the company not making a reasonable effort to accommodate the religious need. In accordance with the equal opportunity Commission, the mandates that employers and other covered entities reasonably accommodate religious beliefs of employees as long as the accommodation causes no more than a minimal burden for operations (EEOC, 2016).
From the employer perspective, the manager believed that he was genuinely following company policy. The idea of a dress code is understandable and many workplaces have these codes. However, making the exception for the hijab was not considered unreasonable by the judge. The hijab would neither interfere with the performance of the job nor would it be a large adjustment to the workplace.
Cases such as this are generally caused by lack of legal understanding. The manager in an effort to follow company policy created a discrimination suit. This is a common issue due to ignorance of the law. In this particular case the law is extremely clear regarding religious accommodations stating:
Unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer’s operation of its business, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices. This applies not only to schedule changes or leave for religious observances, but also to such things as dress or grooming practices that an employee has for religious reasons. These might include, for example, wearing particular head coverings or other religious dress (such as a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim headscarf), or wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair (such as Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard). It also includes an employee’s observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (such as pants or miniskirts) (EEOC, 2016).
To mitigate this type of risk, managers need to have clear policies that reflect the law. Blanket policies for dress codes may seem logical but they are typically not inclusive of religious and other rights of workers (Landy, 2005). Typically, in large companies, managers would be able to rely on human resources to determine the legality of actions in these cases. In this case, there was definitely failure in policy.
In cases of religious discrimination, much like other cases of discrimination, the burden of hardship determines the fine or penalty to the employer. This is determined by the EEOC on a case by case basis. If the discrimination caused a loss of time or money due to absence from work, the individual will be compensated for this loss. Depending on the level of pervasiveness of the problem, the EEOC may file it as a class action suit. The standards for penalties in discrimination cases are as follows:
Discrimination is considered a criminal offense and is punishable through compensation standards set by the government. These standards include are defined by size of companies:
15–100 employees — up to $50,000.
101–200 employees — up to $100,000.
201–500 employees — up to $200,000.
500+ employees — up to $300,000.
In cases involving intentional age discrimination, or in cases involving intentional sex-based wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, victims cannot recover either compensatory or punitive damages, but may be entitled to “liquidated damages.”
Liquidated damages may be awarded to punish an especially malicious or reckless act of discrimination. The amount of liquidated damages that may be awarded is equal to the amount of back pay awarded to the victim (EEOC, 2010).
This is more common in racial or ethnic discrimination situations because large numbers of individuals are impacted by the discrimination practice. The key to avoiding this problem is to have current policies in the workplace that represent the law and to inform managers of the best practices for avoiding discriminatory practices.
EEOC. (2016). Religious Discrimination Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/index.cfm
EEOC. “Filing A Charge of Discrimination.” US Government , 2010. Web. 4 Dec 2010. http:// www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm.
Landy, F. J. (2005). Employment Discrimination Litigation: Behavioral, Quantitative and Legal Perspectives. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.