Study Seeks to Better Understand Workplace Discrimination

Researchers at the Rice University Religion and Public Life Program (RPLP) and the University of Texas Health Science Center teamed up with a sociologist to better understand and deal with workplace discrimination.

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They found that two-thirds of the Muslims interviewed, half the Jews, and more than a third of evangelical Protestants experienced workplace discrimination.

The report, published this year in Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, identified how discrimination was perceived, including stereotyping, social exclusion, and treating an individual as different.

The team analyzed 194 interviews conducted with Muslim, Jewish, Christian and nonreligious employees.

Not everyone suffered the same kind of discrimination. Muslims and Jews reported Islamophobic or antisemitic bias. Evangelical Christians felt singled out for their moral views, or felt they were viewed as judgmental.

Those interviewed described feeling uncomfortable when asking for time off to observe religious holidays, or when they displayed religious symbols or attire in the workplace. Jews and Muslims were particularly worried about making their religious identity known to their colleagues—a concern that led some to conceal or downplay their faith.

Coauthor Elaine Howard Ecklund, professor of sociology and founding director of RPLP, believes that education plays a key role in making religious people feel welcome and comfortable in the workplace, and that workplace training “must include exercises that specifically target all kinds of religious discrimination.” 


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Workplace Discrimination Rice University Rice University Religion and Public Life Program University of Texas Health Science Center