A national trucking company has reached a $260,000 settlement with four Southern California workers. The four men, all whom are Sikh, lost their jobs for refusing to submit hair for a drug or urine test. One of the workers was asked to remove his turban while providing a urine sample. All men opted to take different types of drug tests, but were instead fired by the company. Sikh beliefs dictate that it is sacrilege to cut hair and not wear turbans in public. This may be an example of employment discrimination at work.
Businesses cannot institute guidelines that are discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In this case, the trucking company faced accusations of being unaccommodating to Sikh religious practices. Title VII can protect the religious beliefs and customs of workers. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act can also workers from religious discrimination.
Many businesses may have strict dress codes, but could run afoul of the law by creating policies banning turbans, hijabs or other religious garbs. Employers must meet Title VII guidelines, and must show an employee’s religious garbs create an undue hardship, such as safety hazards, if they want to justify their failure to accommodate.
Some employers cannot create policies that unfavorably affect one group of people, such as those with disabilities or of a specific marital status. Policies specifically targeting women, men, same sex couples or age groups may also be illegal.
How Can You Fight Back Against Employment Discrimination at Work?
Workers who are facing discriminatory policies should reach out to an employment law attorney. An experienced attorney can help workers discover if their employers have broken the law. Depending on the details of the situation, legal action against employers may be possible.