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Be diligent about addressing religious discrimination at work, especially at a time when Jewish community centers are being vandalized and receiving bomb threats and President Donald Trump seeks to restrict immigration and travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, a labor attorney said during the Society for Human Resource Management's Employment Law & Legislative Conference. "What happens out there [in public] … can affect our workplaces," said Jonathan A. Segal, an attorney with Duane Morris in Philadelphia and New York City. "This is a hot topic and getting hotter every day."Jewish community centers are facing threats at the highest rates since the 1930s, according to Segal, who recalled seeing an armed guard when he recently walked into a synagogue. And he pointed to Trump's recent executive order that temporarily restricts immigration and travel into the U.S. by people from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. Those are two examples of how religion has become more publicly discussed, sometimes very negatively, Segal said. He spoke at the Washington, D.C., conference March 14 on "Religion & Work: Balancing Legal Risks and Maximizing Inclusion."
So What Is Religion?
Religion encompasses not only traditional, organized faiths such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. It also includes people who follow the tenets of lesser-known religions such as the Church of Body Modification; those who have a sincerely held religious belief even if that belief is not held by the religious group to which they belong; and those with sincerely held nontheistic beliefs involving what is right or wrong, such as veganism.And while atheistic beliefs fall under the definition of religion, Segal added, economic philosophies, political organizations and hate groups do not.
Forms of Religious Discrimination
Segal warned HR professionals to be aware of, and steer clear of, these types of religious discrimination in the workplace:
Recommendations for Employers
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