Workplace Inclusion


You have the responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for workers.

You must treat job applicants as well as current employees equally, regardless of religion. 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 beliefs.  Further, the law protects those who are not part of any religious group or have no sincerely held religious beliefs. In general, this means you can’t: 

  • fire,
  • reject for a job or promotion,
  • give lesser assignments to,
  • force to take leave, or
  • otherwise negatively alter the terms and conditions of employment for an individual because of their religion. 


You’re not allowed to segregate employees based on religion, such as assigning them to non-customer service positions because of an actual or feared negative customer reaction. You have the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would impose more than a minimal burden on business operations. This means that you may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace that would allow your employees to practice their religion, such as flexible schedules, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, and exceptions to dress and grooming rules. 


You’re not allowed to discriminate against workers because of: 

  • their sincerely held religious beliefs,
  • their marriage to or association with an individual of a particular religion, or
  • the dress or grooming practices they follow for religious reasons.


Employment discrimination may also occurwhen an employer’s seemingly fair policies or practices have a significant negative impact on people because of their religion without demonstrating the policies or practices are job-related and consistent with business necessity. And discrimination can occur when the person who discriminates shares a protected characteristic like religion with the applicant or employee who is discriminated against.  


It is, however, not unlawful for an employer to hire and employ employees based on religion in certain instances where religion is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise. Certain religious organizations that are federal contractors may also be exempt from some nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations. Additionally, religious organizations may have an affirmative defense to claims by certain workers under the “ministerial exception” from nondiscrimination laws. 

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisor:

For additional assistance, please contact:

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): 1-800-397-6251 or the OFCCP Help Desk

Female coworker speaking to male coworker about a project
Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.