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What are reasonable religious accommodations in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination |

You may hear a lot about reasonable accommodations in the workplace for disabilities, but that’s not the only situation where employers are expected to make a few minor adjustments for their employees. 

Religious accommodations, too, are essential to ensure that employees can observe their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. 

Minor adjustments without massive disruptions

A reasonable religious accommodation is any adjustment that lets an employee practice their religion so long as that adjustment doesn’t cause the employer significant hardship. What exactly does that mean? Here are some examples:

  • Flexible work schedules: This may involve permitting an employee to clock out at certain times to pray and then work over a little at what would normally be the end of a shift to make up their time. Or, it might involve not scheduling an employee to work on certain days that are sacred in their religion.
  • Dress code accommodations: One of the most common accommodations employers make is modifying dress codes to accommodate religious attire, such as hijabs for Muslim women or turbans for Sikh men. It may also include things like permitting Orthodox Jewish women to wear skirts instead of uniform pants or permitting Christians to wear a cross. 

It’s important to remember that a religion need not be common or familiar to an employer to deserve the same consideration given to those who follow well-known faiths. Rastafarians and Asatru have the same rights as Hindus and Catholics. Whatever your beliefs, they deserve respect. 

If your employer wants to decline your accommodation request, they need to show that accommodating you would somehow affect workplace safety or efficiency, cause a significant economic burden or negatively affect the rights of others. If your request was summarily dismissed or you were retaliated against just for asking for an accommodation, you do have legal recourse.

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