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Is it legal to fire someone who refuses to work on Christmas because it is a religious holiday?

Mount Pleasant, MI |

This is the only time I will have missed a shift in five years being at the company

Attorney Answers 3


Generally, employers run into legal issues when they are not treating all employees equally. In the situation you describe, this could arise in scenario where the employer allowed employees of one religion to take their religious holidays off, while employees of another religion were not allowed to take off for their holiday. For example, if the employer had a policy of allowing Muslims to take off for Ramadan, but did not allow Christians to take off for Easter, this may result a claim of discrimination based upon religion.

However, generally, there is not a legal requirement that I am aware of where all employers must allow their employees to take off for the holiday of Christmas. If you are an "at will" employee, you refuse to work on a scheduled date, and the employer is treating all employees equally, this may be a illegitimate basis for the employer terminating your employment.

To better assess the situation you have inquired about, you need to know whether the employer is treating those employees who want to take off for Christmas differently, whether all employees are required to work on Christmas (or some employees can take off, while others cannot), and how the employer treats other religious holidays and employees of other religions.

I suggest also consulting with an attorney in MI, which I am not, to determine if there are any additional state law rights afforded to you.

I hope this response is helpful. If so, please take a second and click the “helpful” button below. If you need any further guidance about your situation, do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you and best of luck.

Judd G. Millman
606 Bosley Avenue, Suite 3B
Towson, Maryland 21204
Telephone: (410) 522-1020
Facsimile: (410) 522-1021

The answer/response provided above is based solely on the extremely limited facts provided by the person posing the question, and the advice given or proper course of action recommended might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. Accordingly, the above answer/response is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice and all who read it should not rely on the answer as legal advice or allow it to govern their conduct. The answer should not be construed as creating any type of attorney-client relationship. Attorney-client relationships can only be formed through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. You are highly encouraged to arrange a meeting with competent legal counsel in order to disclose and discuss all relevant facts surrounding your situation. This answer is intended for Maryland or Texas residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the States of Maryland and Texas.

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If you have a discrimination theory about retaliatory discharge or hostile workplace conditions you'll need a lawyer. Religious belief, age, gender, race etc. all are discriminatory reasons for which you cannot be legally fired and upon which you might base a wrongful termination suit.

If you are an at-will employee, you can be fired for any reason or no reason, except unlawful discrimination. If you do not have an employment contract or union to represent you, your recourse is limited. Discrimination based on age, gender, race, religious beliefs etc.... may give rise to a different answer.

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I agree with both attorneys who previously answered. I just wanted to add that you will need to show that this is, in fact, a religious holiday that you observe and not just a day you want off that happens to be religious.

***Answering legal questions is a complex matter and cannot be done without further research. My answer here is based solely on the information given in the question and should be taken as informational only. This is not legal advice. My answer here does not indicate that I represent you now, or that I will represent you at a later time. I take clients on a case-by-case basis, and only after initial consultations. ***

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