Religious Discrimination and Accommodations

The Civil Rights Act of 1965 protects against discrimination of employees based on their religion, and it also requires reasonable accommodations of religious practices.  In the aftermath of the disaster that occurred on September 11, 2001, many persons of different religious faiths, especially those of the Muslim faith, have had to endure hateful treatment by some of their fellow Americans, which in turn has spilled over into the workplace.  Even before this disaster some employees have been targeted for discrimination because they were, or were not, a member of a certain religious faith.  Both federal and state law prevent this form of discrimination, and employers must be diligent in preventing this type of discrimination from entering into the workplace.  For a brief overview on what evidence is used to establish an illegal discrimination case, go to the Spotting Illegal Discrimination webpage.

One of the issues often ignored by employers is the requirement that they provide reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs.  Examples of reasonable accommodations include reassignment or transfer, restructuring of job duties, flexibility in dress and appearance standards, and allowing reasonable time off or the exchange of work schedules to allow for religious practices.  These accommodation requirements often times require detailed analysis by the employer of the circumstances, including a determination as to how much of a burden such an accommodation would have on the employer.

Please note that as with other forms of discrimination, only significant employment decisions are considered to be a violation of these laws, such as decisions involving hiring, promoting, compensating, terminating, or failing to accommodate.  However, these same religious discrimination laws do also provide protections for illegal harassment and retaliation.   

If you have a dispute relating to this workplace issue and you believe the situation would best be resolved through mediatoion, please contact us by email. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

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