What Is Religious Discrimination In The Workplace?－An Examination of The American Experience
Author：Cing-Kae Chiao, Research Fellow
Author：Cing-Kae Chiao Research Fellow
Origin of Topic
Reports show it has become more common for religious community in Taiwan to establish schools, hospitals, or profit-seeking enterprises; at the same time, more and more foreign workers and new residents are practicing religions other than Taiwan’s mainstream sects. As a result of these trends, problems related to religious tensions and discrimination in the workplace are emerging: foreign workers who practice Islam are made to eat pork; employees at a deeply religious hospital are compelled to adopt a vegetarian diet; devout bosses demand that workers follow strict daily prayer routines in the workplace; employees at religious organizations are required to donate a certain percentage of their salaries to the religious institution; and teachers are dismissed for practicing a religion other than that endorsed by the school. However, according to statistics from the Ministry of Labor, to date, employment discrimination evaluation committees of county and city governments have handled only three formal complaints -- a very low percentage of the total number of cases.
Article 5 of the Employment Services Act prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace and stipulates that such discrimination is punishable by a fine ranging from NT$300,000 to NT$1,500,000. As violating the law would impose a heavy burden on SMEs, when proposing amendments to the Equality in Employment Act, the question of whether or not to retain “religion” as a category of workplace discrimination remains open to debate. Under these circumstances, finding means of carefully dealing with such controversies, and of accommodating “religious pluralism”, are subjects worthy of some attention.
Fortunately, the United States has had regulations against religious discrimination in the workplace for almost half a century, and its considerable experience on religious discrimination in the workplace offers invaluable references as Taiwan's authorities seek to establish more amicable workplaces in which people of different religions can work alongside each other in harmony.