Religious harassment in the workplace may consist of requiring employees to abandon or change their religious beliefs as a condition of employment, and unwelcome and pervasive comments or behavior regarding their religion that create a hostile or abusive work environment. For behavior to qualify as harassment, it must generally be severe and widespread. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect workers from discrimination or harassment based on their religion. Title VII protects not only well-known, established religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but also beliefs not associated with a formal church and even the absence of religious beliefs. Under Title VII, employees may not be treated differently because of their beliefs, or harassed or prevented from observing their religious traditions. The law applies to employers with at least 15 employees. However, religious organizations are exempt from many of the provisions. Comments regarding another employee's religion constitute harassment if they impact the work environment and make it difficult for the employee to fulfill her job duties. For example, if other employees are discussing their religious views, this is not harassment even if another employee is offended by it. However, derogatory or hostile comments repeatedly directed at another employee would likely be considered harassment, especially if they create a hostile environment or if the employee has asked for the comments to stop. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents do not qualify as harassment unless they are severe. Frequent anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim comments by coworkers give rise to a religious discrimination claim.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin