The religious class is protected under Title VII against religious discrimination so that they can uphold their traditional and religious beliefs. Employers are required to accommodate various religious beliefs of employers or prospective employees unless adherence to such would likely impose undue hardships. Under Civil Rights Act of 1964, the protected class belongs to the feature of an individual who cannot be a target for discrimination. The protected class is considered to possess the following characteristics or factors race, color, religion, national origin, age (40 and above), sex, pregnancy, citizenship, family status, disability, etc. (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Past practices of employment discrimination that have been exercised regarding faith inclination have prompted law makers into formulating Acts aimed at protecting religious groups against such employment discrimination. Title VII prohibits decisions on employment based on assumptions and stereotypes about traits, performance and abilities of people of certain faith groups. Discriminating against an individual regarding hiring, recruiting, promotion, work assignments, wages, and benefits is unlawful especially when such discriminatory practices are targeting protected classes.
Example 1: Supreme Court Ruling on Abercrombie Religious Discrimination Case
Following Supreme Court ruling against religious discrimination, Abercrombie & Fitch’s, which is a cloth retailer, was ordered to settle the case over the refusal to employ a Muslim woman concerning her insistence to wearing the headscarf. The cloth retailer pointed out that the headscarf violated its established “look policy.” Consequently, the company paid $18,983 in court charges and $25,670 in damages to the lady by the EEOC which filed the suit against Abercrombie (Abercrombie Settles Religious Discrimination Case).
Example 2: Ruling by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over Religious Discrimination
Religious freedom advocates agree that Scalia’s ruling forever changed how America approached protection of the rights of the religious groups. He blew up how courts used to handle religious disputes for close to three decades. In the case he handled, two members of the Oregon Native American church made an argument that a state law prohibiting the use of peyote violated their guaranteed of freedom of exercising religious beliefs as provided by the First Amendment (How Justice Scalia ruled on religious freedom). They were both dismissed for employment for ingesting peyote, which was passive to be an illegal drug, and denied benefits of unemployment. Scalia stated that perhaps Oregon had the right to treat peyote use as a crime since the state did as such through generally applicable law, and not purposely for targeting those Native American communities. However, he criticized the practice by the courts for employing “compelling interest tests” to similar cases, pointing that Supreme Court judges ought not be handed powers to make decisions if and when applicable laws place a significant burden on religious groups. His opinion sent shock waves to faith communities, where in excess of 60 civil liberties and faith groups joined in efforts to restoring the compelling interest tests through having Congress pass Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (How Justice Scalia ruled on religious freedom).
Summary of the Examples
In both cases, it is clear that religious discrimination does not have the support of any established law. However, the former case came when ruling standards had been established under the law that made it easier for its settlement whereas the latter case occurred when religious groups were still fighting against religious discrimination, therefore, making its outcome to be in forms of recommendations and not settlements.
US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2004). Federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. Retrieved April, 9, 2009.
Abercrombie Settles Religious Discrimination Case After Supreme Court Ruling. (2015). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/07/21/375891.htm
How Justice Scalia ruled on religious freedom — and why it matters. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/local/how-justice-scalia-ruled-on-religious-freedom-and-why-it/article_6795b6ec-df16-11e5-b086-df3c277ccda7.html