For the past 20 years, Samuel Cordes has made his living representing clients alleging discrimination from their employers for reasons such as age, race or gender. But in the last few years, his mix of cases has changed: an increasing proportion is now coming from religious discrimination. "It's coming up a lot more," said the Downtown-based employment lawyer. "Until 2001, I bet I didn't have more than one a year."
Right now, Mr. Cordes is working on five religious discrimination cases. Nationally, religious discrimination charges by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission rose from 1,939 in 2000 to 2,572 in 2002 and have remained roughly at that level ever since. In 2006, the EEOC reported 2,541 charges of religious discrimination.
"There are far more of them than you read about," said John Myers, chair of the labor and employment department at Downtown-based law firm Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott. "In 25 years, I never had a case involving an Islamic employee and in the last couple of years, I've observed more decisions and personally picked up a handful of cases."