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You think you're a victim of religious discrimination at work - overview

This advice applies to England

Your employer and colleagues can’t treat you unfairly because of your religion or belief. This is called discrimination.

If anyone at work behaves in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable because of your religion or belief, it’s called harassment.

If you complain about discrimination and are treated unfairly because of your complaint, it’s called victimisation.

Discrimination, harassment and victimisation because of religion or belief is against the law.

If you think you’re experiencing any of these things, you can talk to a specialist at your nearest Citizens Advice about what to do next.

Identifying discrimination

Discrimination at work can be either ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ - both kinds are against the law.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination is when your employer treats you less fairly than another employee because of your religion or belief. This could include:

  • refusing to employ you or give you work
  • dismissing you from your job
  • not promoting you
  • giving you worse pay or benefits

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when an employer makes rules that disadvantage people who’re of the same religion or belief.

For example, your employer asks you to work on Sunday like other employees, but it’s your day of worship. Or they ask you to dress in a way your religion doesn’t allow.

Identifying harassment

Religion or belief harassment is when someone offends or humiliates you because of your religion or belief. This includes saying something abusive about a particular religious group. It doesn’t matter whether the harassment was deliberate or not.

Identifying victimisation

If you’ve already complained about being harassed or discriminated against and are being treated worse, you’re being victimised.

For example, if you have:

  • been ignored by your colleagues
  • been given a bad reference
  • been denied a promotion or training opportunity

Reporting harassment, discrimination or victimisation

If you’ve been harassed, discriminated against or victimised, you should follow these steps.

Step 1

First speak to your line manager or HR department - they’re required by law to take steps to prevent harassment and discrimination.

You should follow up any conversation you have in writing and keep a copy for yourself.

It’s worth collecting evidence - for example by keeping a diary. List dates and locations, and describe what happened each time you experience discrimination.

Step 2

If you’ve tried to stop the issue but it hasn’t worked, you should, where appropriate, raise a ‘written grievance’. This is a formal complaints process that all workplaces have. Ask your HR team, trade union representative or manager if you’re not sure.

Step 3

You can take your case to an employment tribunal. You can’t do this without going through Acas early conciliation first.

You’ll need expert advice before you do this. Get help from a specialist at your nearest Citizens Advice.

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