What kind of religious accommodations must my employer grant me?

Federal anti-discrimination laws outline certain reasonable accommodations that all private and public employers are required to grant to their employees. These accommodations serve to allow employees with disabilities or special requirements the ability to perform their work duties just like any other employee, and they also serve to allow employees with reasonable requirements for their religious practice to exercise their freedom of religion. Here are a few of the religious accommodations that you can expect in your workplace.

What are reasonable accommodations?

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal body in charge of enforcing federal anti-discrimination legislation – such as the Civil Rights Act. According to the EEOC, employers must grant reasonable accommodations for wearing religious garb, breaks that employees must take for prayer, schedule changes for religious holidays, and things of that nature.

This means that, if you have sincerely held religious beliefs that require a certain adjustment to your work environment, you will likely be able to request it. However, an important caveat to this rule is that an employer is not bound to accommodate requests that create undue hardship on the business.

What constitutes undue hardship?

Undue hardship looks different for each company. A minor inconvenience for a large company could be prohibitively costly for a small business. In general, companies make decisions on a case-by-case basis as to whether the accommodation requested by employees is too costly or not.

For example, if a business must occasionally pay overtime to other employees that cover your shift so that you can attend a religious ceremony, a court may agree that this is a reasonable accommodation. However, if you request that the company do so several times a month, then they could have justification for rejecting your request, or for proposing a more reasonable counteroffer.

Discrimination takes many forms. It’s essential that employees feel able to express their sincerely held religious belief without fear of retaliation from employers. Fortunately, the law provides you with the protection that you need to request the accommodations that you require so that you do not have to choose between your faith and your work. Alan C. Olson & Associates can help you to vindicate your rights if they are violated.


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