EEOC Addresses Issues of Religious Discrimination

Friday, July 29, 2016

Combating Religious Discrimination Today, a community engagement initiative coordinated by the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, brought together EEOC and other federal agencies to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination, and enhance efforts to combat religion-based hate violence and crimes.

Additionally, in an effort to improve the information available about religious discrimination, EEOC announced it will implement changes in the collection of demographic data from individuals who file charges with the agency. These changes will allow EEOC to collect more precise data about the religion of the individual alleging discrimination - allowing the agency, as well as the public, to recognize and respond to trends in charge data.

Finally, EEOC plans to improve coordination with the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which enforces the prohibition of religious discrimination in employment by federal contractors and subcontractors. EEOC and OFCCP will work together to develop joint outreach and education efforts concerning discrimination based on religion.

Religious discrimination remains an issue in the American workplace. In fiscal year 2015, EEOC received 3,502 charges alleging discrimination on the basis of religion, with the top issues alleged being discharge, harassment, terms and conditions of employment, and reasonable accommodation.

EEOC has filed 73 lawsuits since the beginning of fiscal year 2010, including five in FY 2015, involving claims of religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During the same period, the Commission recovered approximately $4 million, as well as other important types of relief, for victims of religious discrimination.

EEOC has developed information to educate employers, employees, and the public about religious discrimination, including Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace ( Best Practices for Eradicating Religious Discrimination in the Workplace (  Last December, EEOC released docu­ments for employees and employers that focused on discrimination against people who are or are perceived to be Muslim or Middle Eastern, and an accompanying background summary (

The Commission has also issued technical assistance publications concerning Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities ( and an accompanying fact sheet ( describing when an employer's garb or grooming policies must give way to an employee's or applicant's sincerely held religious beliefs or practices about certain garb or grooming, such as a headscarf for Muslims, Pentecostal women requesting to wear skirts, or beards worn by Orthodox Jews or Sikhs.

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