Federally, it’s not legal to discriminate based on a person’s skin color, national origin, religion, disability, age, race or sex. That doesn’t mean that discrimination doesn’t happen, though. Discrimination can happen for a variety of reasons from having employees mistreat others based on stereotypes to having religious disputes during the holiday season.
Religion is one of the bigger issues in the winter and spring, because two major Christian holidays take place, Christmas and Easter. Some people celebrate the advent and other related events as well.
As an employer, you may also believe in celebrating these holidays, but you have to be cautious about how you proceed. If your staff is from varied backgrounds, then you need to be sure that you’re being fair about the holidays that they may or may not celebrate.
How can a holiday be discriminatory?
The first way that an employer could be discriminatory is by only recognizing one religion’s holidays. Yes, Christians make up a large part of America’s workforce, but so do people who celebrate Jewish or Islamic celebrations. No matter what the holiday is, if it’s one that is widely celebrated by a religious group, employers need to be cautious about how they respond to requests for time off or reasonable accommodations.
Being inclusive is one of the better ways for employers to reduce the likelihood of discrimination, whether that means recognizing one worker’s right to pray at a certain time during the day or another’s need to take vacation during an important holiday period. Doing that will show a willingness to be open about religion and to accept others rather than to discriminate based on their differences.