Michelle Cohen Levy

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What is reasonable accommodation for religion?

| May 26, 2020 | Employment Law |

The workplace needs to be safe, and not just from a physical standpoint. Employees need to be protected from discrimination and harassment that create a hostile work environment.

Yet, all too often, coworkers, supervisors, and other members of management fail to take actions to prevent and stop discrimination and harassment. When this is the case, an individual needs to take action. The first step in that process, though, is understanding one’s rights under the law.

In this post, we will look at reasonable accommodation as it relates to religion.

Religious accommodation

Generally speaking, an employer must reasonably accommodate your practices, dress, and grooming with regard to your religion so long as it does not create an undue hardship on your employer.

Therefore, an employer cannot require an employee to stop wearing a religion-based head covering because the employer does not like it. Similarly, your employer should try to work with your schedule to accommodate religious holidays.

Undue hardship, defined

However, as mentioned above, these accommodations are necessary only if they are reasonable and do not cause an undue hardship on your employer.

An undue hardship exists if it is:

  • Expensive
  • Dangerous
  • Negatively impacts the workplace’s efficiency
  • Infringes on the rights or liberties of other employees, or
  • The accommodation forces other employees to take on more than their fair share of the work, especially if the work is dangerous or burdensome.

If you have religious practices that require accommodation, start by discussing the matter with your employer.

But if your employer isn’t receptive, erroneously claims that accommodation would cause an undue hardship, or retaliates against you for your religious beliefs by demoting, firing, or shifting you to an undesirable position, then it might be time to contact an experienced employment law attorney.