Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of religion. “Religion” is defined broadly to mean “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.”
Assuming there is no “direct evidence” of religious discrimination, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held in order to establish a prima facie claim of religious discrimination under Title VII based on circumstantial (“indirect”) evidence, the employee must demonstrate that: (1) the employee was a member of a protected class, (2) the employee was subjected to an adverse employment action, (3) the employee was qualified for the position, and (4) the employee was replaced by a person outside of the protected class or was treated differently than similarly situated employees. An employee can also bring an action for failure to accommodate a religion. In order to pursue a failure to accommodate religion claim, the Sixth Circuit has held an employee needs to show that he or she: (1) holds a sincere religious belief that conflicts with an employment requirement; (2) informed the employer about the conflict; and (3) he or she was discharged or disciplined for failing to comply with the conflicting employment requirement.
If the employee shows a prima facie case of religious discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason(s) for the adverse employment action. If the employer does so, then the employee must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the stated reasons were a pretext or cover up for discrimination.
To determine if you have a claim for religious discrimination, call Dale Bernard at 440-546-7500.