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Be Wary Before Denying Religious Accommodations
HR Stories From The Front Lines*
Most workplaces have dress codes that employees must follow, and, on occasion, you've probably had to discuss appropriate work attire. But what would you do if your employee showed up wearing
a cloak and informed you it was for a religious accommodation? That's exactly what happened to HR Director Riley.*Read on (Opens in a new window) to see how she handled the situation gracefully.
(*These incidents really happened; but names and other details have been changed.)
Stay Up to Date on the Latest Employment Legal Updates
Do you have an HR question keeping you up at night?
The following question was submitted to our HR Professionals in the past month ...Question #1
We have a general manager who has been accused of engaging in a romantic relationship with a subordinate employee. If this accusation is true, it would be a violation of our company policy. How should we best address this complaint?Question #2
Our IT Manager is not meeting our company's attendance expectations. The IT Manager is an exempt employee and, when we have talked to him about this problem, he has told us that as an exempt employee, he is able to have a flexible schedule and work when/where he chooses.
Are we able to hold him accountable to work a consistent schedule?
View the Answer (Opens in a new window)
You run a 24 hour/7 day a week manufacturing operation. On the application form, you ask applicants for their availability throughout the week. On his application, Kevin stated he can work any time, any day of the week. Once hired, he lets you know he cannot work on Saturdays for religious reasons. Company policy states all employees will be rotated to work weekends and no accommodations will be made for any reason. While you can probably accommodate Kevin's request, you fear others will complain the accommodation is unfair and employee morale will be affected.
How should you handle this issue?
You must accommodate the employee. Your policy or the fact that other employees think it is unfair has no bearing on your requirement to accommodate under the law.
You cannot accommodate Kevin's schedule. Your company policy does not allow for any accommodation. This would not be fair to others and would be "reverse discrimination."
Kevin did not indicate his need for accommodation and lied on his application; therefore, he forfeited his right to a religious accommodation.
This information is provided by ePlace Solutions, Inc. which is solely responsible for its content. ePlace Solutions, Inc. is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services. Federal and state laws are more complex than presented here. This information is simplified for the sake of brevity and is not a substitute for legal advice. ePlace Solutions, Inc. disclaims any liability, loss or risk incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this information.