Religious discrimination

21 August 2019

With higher levels of diversity in the workplace than ever before, it’s important for your business to keep in mind the different religious beliefs of employees.

Our guide explains what your business should do to respect your workforce’s various beliefs.

What is religious discrimination at work?

It’s where an employee receives unfavourable treatment due to their difference in beliefs. This can be as an existing staff member, or a candidate at a job interview.

Religion and gender inequality are two of the leading topics in workplace discrimination. So it’s essential you address this in your business to avoid any legal claims against you.

As such, religion in the workplace laws are clear cut. And it’s important that your business follow them—if you don’t, an employee can make an employment tribunal claim.

There are two pieces of legalisation you should stick to.

In Ireland, religious discrimination in the workplace is illegal under article 44.2.3 of the Irish Constitution. People living in Ireland have certain fundamental personal rights under the Constitution.  

“The State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status.”

Laws regarding religion in the workplace also include the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015 that prohibit discriminatory practices in the workplace.

Examples of religious discrimination in the workplace

So you’re aware, it’s important to keep in mind what constitutes unfair treatment. Religious discrimination can arise in a number of ways including the following:

  • Dismissing a member of staff due to their religious beliefs.
  • Having a hiring strategy that places some religions at a disadvantage.
  • Demoting an employee due to their religious beliefs.
  • Allowing a pay gap to develop based on religious differences.
  • Harassing employees due to their beliefs.
  • Favouring employees based on their religious background.

Remember these are just a few examples and you should have discrimination policy in place to ensure employees respect your business standards.

Enforcing religious rights in the workplace

The Workplace Relations Commission will deal with any complaints your employees raise.

An act of discrimination against religion in the workplace exposes your business to a range of orders which the Workplace Relations Commission (or Labour Court on appeal) cab make following an investigation into the matter.

The range includes an order for:

  • Equal pay or equal treatment putting an end to the discrimination complained of.
  • Up to two years of pay in compensation.
  • An individual to take a specific action.

Need our help?

We can talk you through how to ensure your business celebrates religious diversity. Call us today on: 0800 028 2420.

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