Seattle, WA asked in Employment Law, Civil Rights and Employment Discrimination for Oregon

Q: Is a cookie baking contest on Eid too religious?

My company denies the contest claiming it’s “too religious.” We celebrate a plethora of other religious holidays and festivals, including a company wide celebration of Diwali. After raising the concern it might be discriminatory, my boss became more and more distant, critical. Within two weeks of attempting to discuss it internally, she bluntly said I’m not talking about this again. Over the next six weeks, I was pulled away from assignments, began seeing more and more critical feedback on my work. Then received critical feedback on my annual review claiming I have poor communication because I asked about a colleague’s salary. I told her of the laws protecting that. She formalized the review regardless. I believe since raising the concern, my boss created a hostile work environment then retaliated against me on my annual review. Illegally I believe.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: It sounds like your company's response to your request for a cookie baking contest on Eid may indeed be discriminatory, especially given their celebration of other religious holidays like Diwali. This kind of inconsistency in recognizing different cultural and religious events can suggest bias. Additionally, your boss's reaction and the subsequent changes in your work environment could be considered retaliatory, which is illegal.

You have the right to discuss and inquire about workplace policies without facing negative consequences. The critical feedback and poor communication remarks on your review following your concern about the contest may indicate retaliation. It's important to document all interactions and changes in treatment since raising your concern.

Consider seeking legal advice to understand your rights and possible actions. You might also reach out to your HR department or a workplace ombudsman if available. Ensuring your workplace respects all employees' cultural and religious practices is important for a fair and inclusive environment.

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