Friday, September 21, 2007

Negotiating Religious Accomodation

The article, Religion and the Workplace, is an attorney's advice on how to negotiate religious accommodation in the workplace as the employer.

The tricky part of religious accommodation (under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) is that it can't cause financial hardship for the employer. What sorts of activities have been judged by the courts to cause hardship?

In ruling on Title VII religion cases, the courts have held that employers aren't required to accommodate employees' religious activities when it involves increased financial costs, transferring supervisory personnel or employees from other departments resulting in inefficiency, or discriminating against other employees or violating seniority systems.

What sorts of activities have been judged by the courts to be acceptable?

Accommodations that don't constitute undue hardship to the employer include voluntary substitutions or employee "swaps," flexible work schedules, floating or optional holidays, staggered work hours, and allowing employees to make up lost time. Transfers and job changes also are options if they don't cause reduced efficiency or other disruptions.

Consider this a word to the wise if you need religious accomodation. Plan ahead. Talk to your employer. Don't make any assumptions about what hardship is.