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What does federal law have to say concerning religious discrimination? - III

In today's post, we'll conclude our discussion of how Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides protection against religious discrimination in the workplace to people of all faiths and beliefs.

Specifically, we'll discuss how the law requires employers to make reasonable religious accommodations for employees.

What does Title VII's prohibition against religious discrimination have to say about reasonable accommodation?

Unless doing so would result in undue hardship, employers are required to reasonably accommodate the religious practices and beliefs of their employees. In other words, if there is a practical way in which adjustments can be made to a work environment in order to facilitate the religious practices and beliefs of employees, employers are required to take action.   

What are some examples of religious accommodations?

Some of the more common examples of religious accommodations in the workplace include flexible scheduling, granting of leave, job reassignments, and amendments to workplace policies and procedures to name only a few.  

What constitutes undue hardship for employers?

As stated above, an employer may be exempt from making a reasonable accommodation for religious practices if it would result in undue hardship. This could include scenarios in which the religious accommodation would:

  • Jeopardize workplace safety
  • Prove cost prohibitive
  • Decrease efficiency/productivity
  • Cause other employees to take on a greater share of difficult or possibly even dangerous work
  • Violate the rights of other employees

What about dress and grooming practices?

Absent undue hardship, employers must make reasonable accommodations for the dress and grooming practices their employees observe as part of their religion. While this covers everything from facial hair and hairstyles to head coverings and other attire, it also covers the honoring of employee requests not to wear certain items due to a religious prohibition.

If you believe that you've been victimized by religious discrimination -- or any other type of discrimination -- in the workplace, please understand that you do have options for holding employers accountable. Indeed, an experienced legal professional can outline these options, answer your questions and fight for justice on your behalf.

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