Many protected statuses exist to ensure that employers aren’t discriminating against employees based on these factors since they don’t impact a person’s ability to do their job duties. A person’s gender, race and age are a few protected statuses. Religion is another one.
Some people don’t realize how religious beliefs and practices might come into the picture when it comes to employment. There are a few ways that employees may need accommodations by employers in order to comply with their religion’s requirements. Here are some points to remember about religious discrimination and accommodations in the workplace:
When discrimination is forbidden
Discrimination is forbidden at every stage of the hiring, employment and termination. Employers can’t use someone’s religious preferences as a reason to fail to hire, promote or offer benefits to a person. They can’t use an employees’ religion as a reason to fire them or demote them.
Employers can’t include questions on an application that would indicate religious preferences. They can’t ask questions about this when they are doing interviews. All of these are illegal since they would impact a person’s protected status. The only exception is if the interviewer provides the working hours for the position and asks if the person can work these times. They can’t specifically ask if church or religious activities would prevent them from being able to work.
Reasonable accommodations are required
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for workers who need them due to religious beliefs and principles. There are several that are considered reasonable, but it ultimately comes down to what is necessary for each business.
Two common reasonable accommodations have to do with dress code and grooming. Businesses that require employees to be clean shaven and have short hair might need to make accommodations if the employee is Sikh and can’t shave his facial hair or is Rastafarian and has dreadlocks. Some employees might need to wear or avoid specific clothing items. For example, a Pentecostal woman or one who believes in “holiness” churches might only be able to wear skirts. A Muslim woman might need to wear a hijab. Men might need to only wear pants and long sleeve shirts.
Some other accommodations have to do with the working hours and days. Not all religions follow the same holidays that are considered mainstream in America. People from other religions might want to take days off to observe their faith’s special days. This should be accommodated if possible.
If there are issues with accommodations, harassment or discrimination based on religious grounds, you might decide that you are going to take action. Since these are forbidden by law, you do have options.