Does the Federal Law Prohibit Religious Discrimination Against Atheists?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on a person’s religious beliefs. To take negative action against an employee because of their religion, such as demotion, cutting wage or hours, or termination, is religious discrimination. Is it also religious discrimination then for an employer to take negative action against a worker because of their lack of religion? Is religious discrimination against atheists also prohibited?
Is It Illegal to Discriminate Against Atheists?Say you are working at a family owned retail store. One day, the owner decides to host a staff party to reward everyone for their hard work. You go to this party, looking forward to the fun and festivities. There, you meet up with the owner and strike up a conversation, the topic of which eventually becomes religion. During that conversation, your boss happens to mention that he and his family are devout Christians and asks which church you go to. You reply that you are an atheist.
The next day, you show up for work where your boss asks to see you. He explains that, for reasons he cannot share, he has to let you go. Now, if your termination is related to your comments about being an atheist, you may have a case for religious discrimination.
Many people, both employees and employers, are not aware that the Civil Rights Act protects nonbelievers just as much as believers. In the story above, you could very well have a case for workplace discrimination and wrongful termination.
Unfortunately, the burden falls on you to prove that you were actually fired because of what you said at the party. You’ll want to talk with an employment law attorney to find out how to go about finding proof.
Every person deserves the right to earn a living without fear of discrimination or wrongful termination. No matter if you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Rastafarian, Scientologist, atheist, or follow any other religion, you are protected from religious discrimination.
Dallas employment lawyer Dan A. Atkerson has successfully handled numerous religious discrimination cases, and helped his clients find justice after being treated unfairly.