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Exploring Your Right to Celebrate Holidays in the Workplace

Managing the dichotomy of a diverse workforce during the holiday season

New York is home to a widely diverse workforce, with individuals from all cultures and nationalities represented. Such a diverse mix of individuals creates unique challenges during the holiday season, as many employees seek to celebrate their traditions and religious activities.

Under New York law, organizations must allow employees to express their religious beliefs without fear of reprisal. This means that employers cannot:

  •  Discriminate against any holiday: No employer may disallow imagery or holiday-related content. This means that employees must be allowed to express their religious and holiday preferences, provided that the employee does not cause hardship to the organization or coworkers.

  • Allow sole promotion of a single holiday: Much like an employer may not discriminate against any holiday, an organization may also not actively participate in the promotion of one holiday or religious event over another. This includes circulating holiday-themed announcements, holding religious-themed events or actively comparing holidays against each other.

  • Deny vacation requests based on a holiday schedule: Employers are prohibited from denying vacation requests based solely on the employee’s religious or holiday preferences. A denial may be made, however, if the request poses a hardship upon the organization. This includes situations involving multiple requests as well as those in which the request exceeds the employee’s allowable vacation period.

  • Allow harassment of any employee: While it is difficult to monitor all employees at all times, employers have the responsibility to protect individuals against harassment based on any factor, including their religious and holiday preferences. Allowing harassment or discrimination of an employee for any reason is against the law, and against the true spirit of any holiday season.

In short, an employer must make a good faith effort to allow every employee to celebrate his or her holiday as they see fit. Of course, this is not always possible, as staffing issues, deadlines, and other business matters play a role in the busy holiday season.

As an employee, it is important to remember that your employer is likely doing the best they can to meet your needs. In any event, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holiday, be safe in the knowledge that you have the right to enjoy the holiday as you see fit, without fear of discrimination or harassment.

Take action if you have been discriminated against

If you feel that your employer has discriminated against you or harassed you in any way based on your religious or holiday preferences, you may have legal recourse. Discussing your case with an attorney may be helpful in identifying your legal options.

At Hepworth, Gershbaum & Roth, our New York employment lawyers leverage more than 70 years of experience to support wronged employees. Whether you have been denied the right to celebrate a holiday by an employer or have been harassed for your religious beliefs by coworkers, we can help. Contact us online or call 212-545-1199 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case with one of our New York employment law attorneys.





Contact an employment law attorney in New York today for a free initial consultation and determine whether you have a case. For a free initial consultation, you can contact us online or by phone.

CALL US TODAY! 212-545-1199