Religion in the Workplace: More Than Just Faith in the System

“…it is not necessary to get into theological debates when asked for a religious accommodation. This is the case even if the employee’s belief seems ‘ridiculous’ to the employer.”

For your reference, here are a handful recent law firm updates covering the myriad issues around religious discrimination in the workplace. Do you know how to balance employee rights to worship/practice against the needs of your business? Read on:

The Ten Commandments of Religious Discrimination

From law firm Snell & Wilmer: “Religious harassment occurs when (1) employees are required or coerced to abandon, alter or adopt a religious practice as a condition of employment or (2) employees are subjected to unwelcome statements or conduct that is based on religion and is so severe or pervasive that the individual being harassed reasonable finds the work environment to be hostile or abusive…” Read all 10 commandments»

Religion in the Workplace: 5 Devilish Employer Mistakes

From Constangy: “…when considering a request for a religious accommodation, the employer should make only two judgments: (1) is the belief “religious” in nature, and (2) does it appear to be sincerely held? The employer should not be assessing whether the religious belief is “valid.” Put another way, it is not necessary to get into theological debates when asked for a religious accommodation. This is the case even if the employee’s belief seems ‘ridiculous’ to the employer.” Read all 5 mistakes»

Work-Faith Conflicts And The EEOC

From Fisher & Phillips: “Since 2000, religion-based charges filed with the EEOC increased from 1,939 to 3,386 in 2009. Employers seem to be especially challenged by the duty to accommodate and the EEOC appears to be particularly interested in pursuing enforcement of the accommodation requirement. An EEOC regional attorney observed in a Commission press release: ‘This should not be a difficult question for employers to address in a constructive manner.’ Yet, a federal district court judge presiding over EEOC litigation in Florida noted in a July 2009 ruling against the EEOC that the law regarding what an employer may or may not do in handling accommodation requests ‘is undeveloped and far from settled.’ Let’s take a look at where we are today…” Read entire update»

How Employers Can Avoid Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

From Lisa Mak, an overview of related case law: “”Claims of workplace religious discrimination against Muslim women who wear the traditional headscarf continue to increase throughout the United States, including California. To avoid these types of costly and potentially embarrassing lawsuits, California employers need to understand their rights to impose reasonable dress codes on their employees, as well as the rights of employees and applicants who are…” Read entire update»

Fenwick Employment Brief – August 2011

From Fenwick & West, the following item included in a recent Employment Brief: “A federal district court in Oklahoma recently held that an EEOC employer must make religious accommodations to its dress code, even if doing so could arguably detract from its “corporate image.” The EEOC brought this action against clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch after it denied employment to a teenage girl who wore her hijab, a religiously mandated headscarf, to a job interview. The company maintained that the wearing of a head scarf would violate its narrow uniform policy to which all employees were expected to adhere. The court disagreed, finding that Abercrombie had failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that it would have sustained anything more than minimal “undue hardship” by accommodating the woman’s religious expressions, and as such its actions constituted unlawful religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act…” Read entire brief»

Looking For That “Special Look”?

From Fisher & Phillips: “Creating ‘that special look’ is fine, but only as long as it doesn’t infringe on one of the protected categories under federal or state discrimination laws. And that includes not only race and sex, but – as some recent high profile cases have shown – religion…” Read entire update»

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