RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA

Religion is a matter of belief or faith. The constitution of India recognizes the fact, how important religion is in the life of people of India and hence, provides for the right to freedom of religion under Articles 25 to Article 28. The Constitution of India envisages a secular model and provides that every person has the right and freedom to choose and practice his or her religion. In a number of cases, the Apex Court has held that secularism is the basic structure of the Constitution, the most important being the Kesavananda Bharati case. People in India mainly practice Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and, Christianity. In India, there are religion-specific laws and Goa is the only state to have a Uniform Civil Code known as the Goa Civil Code. The Constitution supports religious harmony which means the people of India show love and affection to different religions of the country.

In a democratic society, everyone has the freedom to choose to believe and practice one’s religion as well as to respect the religion of others. Religious freedom doesn’t mean that a religious person practices his religion by imposing those beliefs unto others, such that if one claims to be a Christian, then one expects everybody around him/her to be one so that he/she feels comfortable.What we often see of people claiming of religious freedom, like among conservatives claiming to be Christian but practicing a lifestyle of homophobia to be adopting the Westboro unorthodox doctrine of hate, they expect everybody to be like them to the point of legislating their beliefs with man-made laws forcing the LGBT community to be unable to have their rights to marry the same sex person they choose to love, and forcing everybody to celebrate all the sins of sexual immoralities of divorce, adultery, rape, pedophile together with other sinners of murderers, homophobes, thieves, terrorists, etc.. so long as they come forth to get married as a man & a woman. That is, to the beliefs of conservative homophobes, whenever real sinners come as a man and a woman, all their sins are magically erased such that people should freely participate in their celebration of marriage no matter how many times they do it in life.Thus is to important to have a religious freedom as in having a mutual respect toward every person of the society who are free to practice their choices of what they choose to believe.

Religious discrimination

Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. 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, ethical or moral beliefs.Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion.What religious discrimination looks like
Religious discrimination can manifest in many ways throughout the workplace. It can happen when advertising a job, holding a company event, or even after an employee has left.For example, an employee might experience:

Direct discrimination if they are treated less favourably because of their religion. For example, if an applicant is not offered a retail job because their faith doesn’t permit them to work on Saturdays.Indirect discrimination if a company-wide rule conflicts with a specific religious practice. For example, if your company has a ‘no headwear’ policy and a Sikh employee wishes to wear a turban.Harassment if they are consistently intimidated, mocked or made to feel afraid. This can be difficult to detect, and yet have a profound impact on the individual’s confidence and productivity.
Victimisation if they have complained about discrimination, or even left your company, but continue to be treated in a derogatory way by ex-colleagues.

What constitutes religious discrimination in the workplace?

If a company treats its employees differently based on their stated religion or religious beliefs and practices, that’s religious discrimination. If employees request an accommodation (a change in a workplace rule or policy, for example) based on their religious beliefs and they are ignored, this can be considered religious discrimination as well.

Even treating employees differently because of their lack of religious beliefs can be regarded as discriminatory behavior.

Legally, religious discrimination is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

In addition to being illegal, religious discrimination can take a severe toll on an employee’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and create an extremely hostile work environment for all employees, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Religious discrimination in the workplace can take many forms and be present in every phase of the employment cycle. This includes the hiring process, promotion opportunities, salaries, the firing process, employee benefits, and even participation in team-building and other social activities at work.Any form of harassment or insistence on participating (or not participating) in certain religious practices is considered discriminatory. Additionally, a refusal to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices (unless the accommodation represents a severe burden on the operations of the company) is not an option.

Harassment
Harassment based on an employee’s religious beliefs or practices in the form of offensive remarks, humiliation, or other offensive behavior. The religious practices in question include dress or grooming. Insulting employees’ religious clothing such as headscarves, yarmulke, or grooming habits, including facial hair and hairstyles, is considered discriminatory.To make it clear, innocent teasing, jokes, or offhand comments aren’t strictly prohibited by law. On the other hand, severe or frequent behavior of this sort insults an employee’s dignity and contributes to a hostile work environment.Since there is no real way to tell where the line should be drawn and what a person finds offensive, it’s best to stay clear of all types of jokes and comments related to religious affiliation while at work.

On the other hand, the employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if the act represents a burden to the operations of their business. The employer is only required to make adjustments that the law decides are reasonable. Slight modifications to the work schedule and voluntary shift swaps typically count as reasonable adjustments, as do certain task reassignments. Conscientious objection to abortion in some Christian doctors, for example, is one such case of job reassignment.However, before an employer becomes liable to lawsuits, the employee (or applicant) is required to notify the employer of their needs. Dialogue between the employer and the employee/applicant needs to take place so that the employer is given enough time and information to consider accommodation options.If the employer (and in the case of a lawsuit, the law) decides that the accommodation requirements are too severe, they are not required to provide them. Some reasons why an accommodation might be considered too burdensome on an employer include increased cost, safety issues, or causing damage to other employees.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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