Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 439–454 | Cite as

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace: A Review and Examination of Current and Future Trends

  • Sonia Ghumman
  • Ann Marie Ryan
  • Lizabeth A. Barclay
  • Karen S. Markel



Over the last decade, religious discrimination claims have risen more rapidly compared to most other protected categories under the Civil Rights Act (CRA). The goal of this review paper is to summarize the psychological and HR practitioner-focused research on religious discrimination as it relates to the CRA to understand these religious discrimination claims. In doing so, this review also highlights what future research is needed, and what the challenges and practical implications of religious discrimination are for managers.


We conduct a systematic literature review of the psychology and business research on religious discrimination.


Building from the literature review and case law, we highlight four trends that contribute to religious discrimination in the workplace: (1) legal ambiguities, (2) increased religious diversity in the American workforce, (3) increasing expression of religious beliefs, and (4) the unique nature of religion.


The trends identified in our review paper highlight the need for employers to understand and address religious discrimination issues in the workplace and the lack of empirical research in this area points to a critical gap in our understanding of workplace religious discrimination that warrants future research.


In addition to highlighting trends that contribute to religious discrimination in the workplace, this literature review addresses where there are gaps in the existing research that call for further research and offers practical implications for employers and organizations.


Religious discrimination Civil rights act Religious diversity Religious harassment Religious accommodations Religious expression 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonia Ghumman
    • 1
  • Ann Marie Ryan
    • 2
  • Lizabeth A. Barclay
    • 3
  • Karen S. Markel
    • 3
  1. 1.Shidler College of BusinessUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.School of Business AdministrationOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

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