A recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit is a reminder that religious discrimination has no place in the workplace.
In EEOC v. Hackensack Meridian Health, the EEOC alleges that a manager at Hackensack Meridian Health, a New Jersey health care network, harassed a Catholic employee because of the employee’s religious beliefs.
In its press release, the EEOC expands: “Shortly after the employee was hired to perform clinical data analytics work, his manager learned he was Catholic and reacted negatively upon seeing a crucifix in the employee's office. Since then, the manager regularly belittled him, screamed at him, and ridiculed his work in front of others.”
This, of course, is against federal law. Nobody should be discriminated against because of his or her religious beliefs.
“All employees are entitled to work in an environment free from unlawful harassment,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “That includes hostile treatment motivated by an employee's religious beliefs.”
The EEOC's New York District Director Kevin Berry concurred.
“Equal opportunity in the workplace requires respect for the diversity of the American workforce,” Berry said. “People of all religions are entitled to go to work and do their jobs without fear of harassment.”
America is indeed at its best when people of all religions, genders, sexual orientations and more feel welcome here – whether in their workplace or elsewhere.
Employers should never belittle any employee’s religious (or non-religious beliefs) or attempt to impose faith onto anyone. At Americans United, we recently defended a transgender woman from employment discrimination that was based on religion. We’re proud to stand with Aimee Stephens, who was fired from a Michigan funeral home because she did not conform to her boss’s religious beliefs about gender identity. We were joined by 76 faith leaders and 14 religious freedom organizations in filing a brief in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Stephens, arguing that religion is no excuse to discriminate against transgender employees.
Cases like these remind us why it’s important to fight back against discrimination on the basis of religion or in the name of religion.
Religious freedom, which includes the right to believe or not believe as you see fit, means that the law treats everyone equally regardless of faith, race, sex, and more. Americans United will continue to protect this ideal. Join us.