Today’s diverse workforce is made up of people from all types of religious backgrounds. People can freely practice their religions in this country, but what if an employee needs to take off from work for a religious holiday? Many employees receive an allotted amount of vacation and sick days per year, which may not be enough time for their religious observances. Asking a supervisor for time off for religious observance can be difficult. Although employees have certain rights, requesting off in these situations can make an employee fear termination.
An employee that needs time off for religious observances can try to smooth the path by being honest with their employer before the time off is needed. This is best done when the employee is job searching; certain positions may provide flexible time. If already employed, an open conversation about upcoming religious observances should be initiated.
In many cases, compromises can be worked out, and the employee can work extra hours on other days, or work from a remote location. Giving the supervisor advance notice and planning for missed time will also help. Some employers are satisfied as long as the work is completed correctly and on time.
According to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their religion, race, sex, color, or national origin. Consequently, an employee cannot be terminated when the reason is related to discrimination. There may be exceptions in certain cases, such as if the time off inflicts undue hardship on the company. The following are a few examples:
The employee must be sincere about their religious beliefs, and not embellish them to receive time off. They must also belong to an established religion, and be willing to share information about it with their employer.
An employer that fires an employee for taking time off for religious observances may think that they had a valid reason, especially if the situation was not handled well by either party. If the employer lacks proof that they fired the employee for a reason that was not discriminatory, they could be challenged. For these reasons, it is essential for all involved to keep accurate records. An employee who explained their needs, had time off approved, but was then fired may be protected if they have evidence.
If your job is in jeopardy due to religious discrimination, contact an experienced Long Branch employment lawyer at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. for a free case evaluation. Call us at 732-493-9400 or complete an online form today. We are in Eatontown, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Asbury Park, Neptune, Long Branch, Keansburg, Ocean Township, Eatontown, Red Bank, Middletown, Colts Neck, Deal, Freehold, Holmdel, Jackson, Little Silver, Marlboro, and Rumson.