A newly-elected Minnesota congresswoman made a declaration on social media after being elected regarding her hijab, an article of clothing that represents her religion. There is a rule in the Capitol that forbids headwear on the House floor. Her plight is echoed by thousands of Americans who encounter flack when they wear a hijab on the job.
Traditionally, employers have been allowed to insist on dress codes. They are usually instituted for branding purposes or because the employer insists that employees conform to a certain look. However, when the attire in question has religious significance, employers are learning that they do not have the right to discriminate in hiring these employees.
People Are Allowed to Be Different
Muslims are not the only people unwilling to adapt to company dress codes. There are many religious groups that object to these requirements, which are unrelated to work performance. A Mississippi restaurant had a dress code explicitly requiring that waitstaff wear blue jean pants because the restaurant saw blue jeans as an identifying symbol. The owner turned down an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian waitress’s request to wear a blue skirt instead of blue jeans. That refusal cost the restaurant $25,000 in court.
In a 2015 Supreme Court case, Justice Samuel Alito asked what employers may do confronted by job applicants such as a Sikh man wearing a blue turban, a Hasidic man wearing a hat, a Catholic nun in a habit, or a Muslim woman wearing the traditional scarf. Can you refuse these people based on their appearance, which is a required sign of their faith?
A Conflict of Civil Rights
Such cases require that the law decide which is more important: the business’s right to require compliance with its dress code, which may have perfectly legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons or the employees’ need to be true to the requirements of their religion. Courts are ruling that freedom of religion, prescribed in the Bill of Rights and codified in civil right law, trumps the need of a restaurant to make employees wear what they deem appropriate.
Corporate dress policy, while legitimate up to a point, cannot trump would-be workers and hired employees from honoring their religious beliefs. The truth is, accommodations to dress code exemptions are not a big deal. Companies who refuse to make simple accommodations suggests stereotyping and discrimination against certain religions.
Montgomery County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight Against Religious Discrimination
There is no excuse for discriminating against workers based on their religion. If you have faced discrimination based on your faith, call the Montgomery County employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We will assist you in defending your rights, no matter what. Call us at 215-569-1999 for a free case evaluation or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.