If you feel you are being discriminated against because of your religion or beliefs, it is possible that you are experiencing a breach in the Equality Act 2010.
According to Equality and Diversity regulations in the United Kingdom, it is unlawful to be discriminated against in various circumstances, which include work, education, and housing.
When are you protected by the law?
There are several situations in which you are protected by law when you experience unfairness. When referring to this protected characteristic, most people simply think of religion.
Although there are many people who experience inequality because they belong to organised religions such as Christianity or Islam, still thousands of people are discriminated for other types of beliefs.
Having said that, the Equality Act also protects people who have other profound beliefs that affect their lifestyle. An example of this can be ethical veganism, due to its philosophical nature.
In addition, people who do not have any religion or belief, such as atheists, are protected by law too. In the matter of politic beliefs, individuals are not entirely protected by the Equality Act, unless those ideologies also involve philosophical beliefs.
Types of criminal offences
If you are being physically or verbally attacked by somebody because of your religion, philosophical belief, or atheism, a criminal offence has been committed against you.
Similarly, it is also considered an offence to publish or share defamatory information against your protected belief. These examples of crime are reportable to the police and you have the legal right to do so.
Examples of religious discrimination at work
A clear example of discrimination at work is to advertise a job for applicants of one religion or belief only.
However, there are many other ways in which an employer might behave unfairly towards their employees at work.
Suppose that you are a Muslim woman who wears a hijab. Your interview is successful but your future workplace’s policies and procedures require all women staff members to wear their hair in a particular style as a company dress code. You have the right to express objections to that policy. If your employer does not accommodate your opinion, it would be considered a crime and therefore unacceptable.
Furthermore, if you are harassed, victimised, or forced to work hours that are not accepted by your religion, you should take action and get confirmation that your problem at work is discrimination.
Ultimately, employers cannot refuse to provide you with relevant training to your job role, because of your belief.
How can I make a formal complaint at work?
If your employer is treating you unfairly at work because of your religious or philosophical belief, there are a few steps that you can take before taking legal actions, such as verbally encouraging them to stop, whistleblowing to a higher department of your workplace or consulting your trade union, if you are signed up to one.
If none of these strategies are successful, you should consider getting advice from reputable organisations, such as Citizens Advice. They will direct you on how to make a claim to an employment tribunal.
For further advice, visit our Support and Resources hub where you will find a list of useful organisations and charities that may be able to assist with a discrimination case.