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Legal protection for employee religious beliefs, old and new, or atheist

Federal and Massachusetts law protect employees in all aspects of religious observance, practice, and belief. Religion is broadly defined to include not only traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. It includes religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or may seem illogical or unreasonable to others. Moreover, an employee’s belief or practice can be “religious” even if it is not followed by others in the same religious sect, denomination, or congregation, or even if the employee is unaffiliated with a formal religious organization.

Legal protection extends to those who are discriminated against or need accommodation because they profess no religious beliefs. For example, an employer that is not a religious organization cannot make employees wear religious garb or articles (such as a cross) if they object on grounds of non-belief.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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