Religious Accommodation

Federal law prohibits an employer from discriminating against a person because of his or her religious beliefs.  The same law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, as long as providing such an accommodation would not cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business.  Therefore, an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment to allow an employee to practice his or her religion.  Such examples of these religious accommodations include, flexible scheduling, modifications to workplace policies or practices.  A religious accommodation might also involve dress and grooming practices.  This might include wearing particular head coverings, wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair, or if an employee’s observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (such as pants or miniskirts.)

At the same time, an employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if it would cause an undue hardship to the employer.  An undue hardship may be caused if it is costly, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, for example.

The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance can assist an employer and supervisor with religious accommodation requests and will work with both to engage in an interactive process with discussing the request.