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By Louise Herman

Many people celebrate their religion in different ways, including holidays and celebrations. Though the United States does federally recognize certain holidays, there are a number of celebrations recognized by religions around the world. If you request a religious holiday off and are denied, it may be a form of discrimination. Keep reading to learn when this act is unlawful and how a Providence, Rhode Island religious discrimination lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.

Can My Employer Refuse to Let Me Take Off for a Religious Holiday?

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an employee for their religious beliefs. This includes denying a request for time off to observe a religious holiday. The definition of religion provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is vast, covering all beliefs.

There are certain instances in which an employer may deny an employee’s request. If you work for a company with fifteen or fewer employees or taking time off of work would create undue hardship on your employer, they may be legally allowed to deny your request. Undue hardship includes the following examples:

  • Infringes the rights of other workers
  • Places other workers at risk because they may need to perform more dangerous work
  • Significantly decreases workplace safety
  • Costs the company too much

If your employer has concerns about the validity of your claim, such as if this is a genuinely held religious belief, they are allowed to make a limited inquiry.

To accommodate religious holidays, an employer may ask that you work a half day, switch shifts, use a floating holiday, or other any other reasonable request. In some cases, an employee may have to use accrued paid time off, if they have any. If they have used all of their PTO, the employer should try to make accommodations.

What Should I Do if My Request Is Denied?

If your request is denied with no option for reasonable accommodations, your company may be in violation of the Civil Rights Act. Regardless of how widespread your religion is, eligible employers must respect the legitimate beliefs of their employees.

In instances where this occurs, you’ll want to file a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will investigate the religious discrimination you’re enduring. Similarly, you’ll want to enlist the assistance of an experienced religious discrimination attorney to help you file a lawsuit to pursue justice for the bias you’ve faced at the hands of your employer.

At the Herman Law Group, we understand the religious beliefs you hold are near and dear to you. As such, you should be provided time to observe and celebrate your religion’s holidays. If you were denied this right, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.