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Accommodating Religion Do you Know How to Respond

October 25, 1999
Related Topics: Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Featured Article
With the growing diversity in America’s workforce, employersneed to increase their knowledge of their responsibilities to avoid employmentdiscrimination on the basis of religion. In addition, federal law obligatesemployers, labor organizations and employment agencies to accommodate the religious practices of employees and prospectiveemployees, unless doing so causes an undue hardship.

Duty to accommodate.
The duty to provide reasonable accommodation is triggered if an employeenotifies an employer that there is a conflict between his or her religiousbeliefs and a job requirement. The employer is only required to offer areasonable accommodation of the employee’s religious beliefs; it need notaccept specific alternatives offered by the employee. Furthermore, the employerdoes not need to show that each of the employee’s posed alternatives wouldresult in undue hardship.

Below are examples of alternatives for religious accommodations:

·   Voluntary swaps:An employer may be able to resolve a religious conflict involving workschedules by exploring a voluntary swap of schedules.

·   Flexibleschedules: This may involve flexible arrival and departure times, workbreaks, and allowing employees to make up time lost to the observance ofreligious practices.

·   Lateraltransfers/change of assignments: The employer may consider allowing theemployee to transfer to another comparable job with the organization, if theemployee cannot be accommodated within his or her current position.

Checklist: what to doafter an accommodation is requested

If an employee identifies a need for religiousaccommodation, take the following steps:

1. Inquire as to the nature of the employee’s beliefs.

2. Consider the sincerity with which the employee holdsthose beliefs.

3. Consider the nature of the conflict between theemployee’s religious beliefs and his or her job obligations.

4. Consider possibleaccommodations.

5. Consider the burdens on business created by eachaccommodation.

6. Offer an accommodationunless such an accommodation wouldcause an undue hardship.

Cite:The information above is taken from the Religious Discrimination publication of the EEOC TechnicalAssistance Program Seminars Series.

Source:CCH Incorporated is a leading provider of information and software for humanresources, legal, accounting, health care and small business professionals. CCHoffers human resource management, payroll, employment, benefits, and workersafety products and publications in print, CD, online and via the Internet. Formore information and other updates on the latest HR news, check our Web site at

The informationcontained in this article is intended to provide useful information on thetopic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

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