Notes from my YouTube video: Wicca at Work

Disclaimer: This video may contain information from legal and/or government sources. It is for information purposes only. I am not a lawyer or attorney, and do not claim to have any expertise on the laws, or legal aspect of said laws, beyond my own research. The sources in this video pertain to the United States of America and may not apply in other countries. If you are in need of legal counsel, seek the advice of a professional (lawyer, attorney, etc.)

  1. What laws protect us from religious discrimination in the United States of America?
    1. The Bill of Rights grants us religious freedom in the first amendment!
      1. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (National Archives)
    2. Laws against religious discrimination and harassment in the workplace
      1. EEOC defines discrimination as “Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.”(U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
      2. EEOC defines harassment as “Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s religious beliefs or practices. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”(U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
      3. “The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  1. “Title VII also prohibits workplace or job segregation based on religion (including religious garb and grooming practices), such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  2. “The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion. Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  3. “An employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  4. “An employee cannot be forced to participate (or not participate) in a religious activity as a condition of employment.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

You can’t be fired, demoted, harassed, or treated differently in any way just because of your religious beliefs. This doesn’t just go for your superiors either. If a coworker or client is treating you badly, this also infringes on the laws of religious freedom and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

However, there are some cases where an employer does not have to accommodate your religious beliefs and needs.

“An accommodation would pose an undue hardship if it –would cause more than de minimis cost on the operation of the employer’s business. Factors relevant to undue hardship may include the type of workplace, the nature of the employee’s duties, the identifiable cost of the accommodation in relation to the size and operating costs of the employer, and the number of employees who will in fact need a particular accommodation.

Costs to be considered include not only direct monetary costs but also the burden on the conduct of the employer’s business. For example, courts have found undue hardship where the accommodation diminishes efficiency in other jobs, infringes on other employees’ job rights or benefits, impairs workplace safety, or causes co-workers to carry the accommodated employee’s share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work. Whether the proposed accommodation conflicts with another law will also be considered.

To prove undue hardship, the employer will need to demonstrate how much cost or disruption a proposed accommodation would involve. An employer cannot rely on potential or hypothetical hardship when faced with a religious obligation that conflicts with scheduled work, but rather should rely on objective information. A mere assumption that many more people with the same religious practices as the individual being accommodated may also seek accommodation is not evidence of undue hardship.

If an employee’s proposed accommodation would pose an undue hardship, the employer should explore alternative accommodations.” (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

2013 – A Mrs. Karen Holland won a lawsuit against her previous employers after taking them to court for an unlawful termination in the UK. “she accused them of turning on her when they found out she was a Wicca-practicing pagan and took them to an employment tribunal, which ruled in her favor” (Bentley).

2017 – A Mr. Carl DeLuca “alleges supervisors and employees at Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home so feared and misunderstood his religious beliefs that a director asked his mother if he was a “terrorist and a Satanist,” according to a civil complaint.”

So, let’s talk about some general dos and don’ts from my point of view.

-Don’t talk religion at work

-Wear your religious jewelry if you want

-Decorate your space if you want

-Ask for time off to observe the Sabbats

-Speak up if you feel you need to

-Don’t be afraid

References

Bentley, Paul. Witch sacked for taking Halloween off work to attend Wiccan ceremony wins £15,000 after claiming religious discrimination. 13 December 2013. 4 August 2018. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2523435/Witch-sacked-taking-Halloween-work-attend-Wiccan-ceremony-wins-15-000-claiming-religious-discrimination.html>.

Donnelly, Frank. What the devil? Belief in Wicca pagan religion got him fired, $10 million-lawsuit alleges. 2 June 2017. 4 August 2018. <https://www.silive.com/westshore/index.ssf/2017/06/lawsuit_belief_in_wicca_pagan.html>.

National Archives. The Bill of Rights. 15 December 1791. Web Based Transcription. 4 August 2018. <https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=13>.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace. n.d. 4 August 2018. <https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_religion.html>.

—. Religious Discrimination. n.d. Web Site. 4 August 2018. <https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm>.