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Equal Rights Division Newsletter - April 14, 2021

ReligionAre your moral beliefs being challenged by your employer?

Wisconsin Fair Employment Law protects workers from workplace discrimination based on creed. But religion isn't the only belief system protected. Strongly held moral or ethical beliefs about right and wrong are also protected - even when they represent a lack of religious belief.

The Problem

Your place of employment is under new management. Your new boss believes in opening each Monday morning meeting with a prayer. This makes you very uncomfortable because of your beliefs. When you tell your boss how this new practice makes you feel, he tells you that it's his right to open the meeting with a prayer and that you'll have to get over it because praying shouldn't make you uncomfortable if you don't believe in God.

Should you contact the Equal Rights Division?

The AnswerReligion

Your employer cannot force you to participate in a religious activity as a condition of employment. Regardless of your religious practice, or, in this case, lack of religious practice, you are permitted by law to ask for an accommodation to excuse yourself from the meeting during the opening prayer. If your employer denies your request to be excused from the opening prayer or demands that you participate in the opening prayer, you may want to contact the Equal Rights Division for further assistance.

Know Your Rights

Remember, Wisconsin Fair Employment Law protects you from workplace discrimination based on your religious views. And strongly held moral and ethical beliefs, even nonreligious beliefs, are also protected.

It's important to understand that there are some exceptions for religious organizations. For more information, contact the Equal Rights Division.

Equal Rights Officers are available to answer your employment discrimination questions. We take calls Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:45 AM and 4:30 PM. Madison: (608) 266-6860; Milwaukee: (414) 227-4384.

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