There are many reasons employers can legally dismiss one of their employees. If they are an at-will employee, employers might not even need a specific reason to dismiss someone. However, if that reason has anything to do with an employee’s protected class – such as their religion – it is against both Colorado and federal laws.
Yet, this is still a common occurrence.
What comes before wrongful termination?
Unfortunately, discrimination often precedes wrongful termination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) highlights some of the most common forms of religious discrimination employees might face. In the workplace, these often take the form of:
- Harassment: If supervisors or coworkers make disrespectful and offensive comments related to your religion, whether directly to you or around you, it is a form of harassment.
- Employment decisions: Perhaps employers consistently overlook you for promotions. They instead promote people with lesser qualifications – but who follow one religion. Along the same lines, employers also cannot show a preference for certain religions, such as only promoting people that share their faith.
- Unfair discipline: This issue often relates to punishments for “violating” the workplace’s dress codes. For example, if employers discipline someone of the Christian faith for wearing a crucifix, or a man of Sikh faith wearing a pagri.
- Lack of accommodation: Religious beliefs might require accommodations as well. For example, if employers do not provide accommodations for employees of the Muslim faith so they can pray – or even punish them for taking the time during work – it is a violation of the law.
It is important to be aware of these common issues. After all, it is often after employees report these instances that they face wrongful termination.
What should you do next?
Not every case of wrongful termination is the result of retaliation, but many are. You may report the consistent harassment you face regarding your religion. However, instead of changes or discipline for the harassers, you learn you were fired. What do you do?
There are two critical steps:
- Make a record: Evidence of the discrimination you faced and the report you made can make a big difference in proving your termination was unfair and against the law. Save emails, make copies of reports and write down details you can remember.
- Seek help: Loss of a job can leave you reeling, no matter the circumstances. Seeking legal guidance can help you not only understand your rights but protect them as well.
Wrongful termination based on your religion is against the law, but it also has very personal, devastating effects. Employees facing these difficult circumstances deserve justice.