Accommodating religion in the workplace

If there is no foreseen undue hardship, however, then you must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices.

This applies not only to requests for days off but also schedule changes or leave for religious observances.

January 14 marks the Hindu high–holiday of Makar Sankranti and also the birthday of the Profit Muhammad – an event that is celebrated by certain Muslim sects.

And don’t forget that Pagans will celebrate the Solstice on December 21. Think of it this way - what will you do if someone asks for one of these days off?

Title VII makes it illegal for employers to exclude qualified women from any available position.

Employers would often hire less qualified men for positions to which women had applied.

As religious diversity in the American workplace increases, so does the importance of management’s understanding how to address conflicts that arise.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), responsible for enforcing the federal law prohibiting discrimination in commerce has recently published a guide to help employers with the task (“Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace,” January 31, 2011).Before you make your decision, let’s first explore the various laws governing workplace protections concerning observance of religious holidays.Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from treating workers differently because of their religion or discriminating against them based on their religion.And you are allowed to request supporting information about your employee’s bona fide religious beliefs and practices.But you may not request proof of the individual’s affiliation to the religion such as a note from clergy, etc.If you don’t have one already, you will want to create a well-communicated anti-harassment policy that also covers religious harassment, what types of behaviors are prohibited, reporting guidelines and impartial investigations with non-retaliation clauses and clearly states your commitment to prompt and appropriate corrective action immediately following the investigative outcome. John is President of Affinity HR Group, LLC, IIABNY’s affiliated human resources partner.

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