Do You Have a Case?

A Guide to Employment Discrimination: Religion

Why do you believe the discrimination happened because of your Religion?

  1. Do you know someone of a different religion who was treated better than you in the same situation? (For example, if you were disciplined for a certain behavior, were others of a different religion not disciplined, even though they engaged in the same behavior?)
  2. Did you request an accommodation (such as a change in schedule or other policy) to allow you to follow your religious beliefs, which your employer denied?
  3. Has your employer treated other coworkers who hold your religion "badly," while treating those with a different religion better in comparable situations? Can you cite specific examples?

NO, none of these sounds like my situation.

YES, at least one of these fits my situation.


Can an employer require me to work certain days or hours, or perform certain duties, that would violate my religious beliefs?

Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, an employer cannot refuse to hire you or otherwise discriminate against you because of your religion. And court decisions have made it clear that the duty to not discriminate can include a duty to accommodate a religious belief.

The ability to not work on holy days, prayer breaks and dress code changes are among accommodations that are sometimes requested — and may, in some cases, be required. But if granting these requests would cause an "undue hardship," the employer does not have to do so. What an employer must do to accommodate a religious belief varies with the specifics of each case.

Why are these questions (about the reason for the discrimination) important?

The state Human Rights Act doesn't protect against unfair treatment that happened to a member of a protected class (such as a person of a certain race or sex) — unless that treatment happened because the person was a member of that protected class.

One way to help prove that the treatment happened because you are a member of a protected class is to show that other people who were of a different class (such as a different race or sex) weren't subjected to the same treatment.

But I know what happened and why... can't you take my word for it?

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is a neutral investigative agency. It's our job to impartially investigate charges of discrimination, and determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that the events a charging party alleges happened — and that they happened because of the charging party's protected class status.

Like any investigative agency, we look for evidence. The more specific information you can give us — including the names of witnesses — the better we can investigate your charge.