Examining the Effects of Exposure to Religion in the Workplace on Perceptions of Religious Discrimination
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Charges of religion-related employment discrimination have doubled in the past decade. Multiple factors are likely contributing to this trend, such as the increased religious diversity of the US population and the increased interest of employees and some employers in bringing religion to work. Using national survey data we examine how the presence of religion in the workplace affects an individual’s perception of religious discrimination and how this effect varies by the religious tradition of the individual. We find that the more an individual reports that religion comes up at work, the more likely it is that the individual will perceive religious discrimination. This effect remains even after taking into account the individual’s own religious tradition, religiosity, and frequency of talking to others about religion. This effect is stronger, however, for Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and for the religiously unaffiliated. In workplaces where religion is said to never come up these groups are among the least likely to perceive religious discrimination. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Evangelical Protestants are more likely to perceive religious discrimination in the workplace even if they say that religion never comes up at work, which makes the effect of exposure to religion in the workplace weaker for these groups. These results show that keeping religion out of the workplace will largely eliminate perceptions of religious discrimination for some groups, but for other groups the perceptions will remain.
KeywordsReligious discrimination Workplace Employment
Research for this article is part of the Religious Understandings of Science Study, funded by the John Templeton Foundation (Grant 38817, Elaine Howard Ecklund, principal investigator).
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