Title VII protects employees from religious discrimination in their workplace. In addition to this federal law, which applies to employers who have at least 15 employees, most states have similar laws with lower minimum-employee requirements. These laws not only prohibit discrimination in word and action but also require employers to make reasonable accommodations which allow their employee to practice their religion “on the job.”
Keep in mind that your employer is also protected from providing accommodations that place an undue hardship in either actual costs or inconvenience. Although they are legally obligated to work toward an acceptable accommodation, they do not have to meet your exact request. Furthermore, your employer also has the right to ask for an explanation of your beliefs and to expect your lifestyle to support your convictions. And finally, while your religious beliefs are part of who you are, and you have the right to share your faith. However, does not permit you to proselytize or harass coworkers. If a coworker asks you not to talk to him/her about your religions – don’t.
How to Seek Accommodations-
So, assuming your religious beliefs are genuine, how do you seek accommodations for these beliefs and practices while at work?
1. Begin with the right attitude. Portraying a spirit of consideration and cooperation will go a long way in obtaining satisfactory religious accommodation. On the other hand, reciting the law or suggesting a potential lawsuit if they don’t honor your request only leads to negative and potentially volatile situations.
2. Take time to research your employer’s policies regarding requests for religious accommodations.
3. Request a meeting with your manager.
4. Open with a statement of appreciation for their leadership (not false flattery, but a sincere thank you.)
5. Explain that you are seeking accommodations that will enable you to practice your religious convictions while on the job. Be prepared to share your beliefs and what activities you desire to participate in during the day. For example, if you have a set time for prayer or desire to wear specific attire, such as a head covering.
6. Come with suggestions for how your employer can accommodate your beliefs but be willing to hear out their response. Perhaps your suggestion will cause undue hardship in a way that you didn’t foresee. Listen to their ideas. The best solutions are usually a compromise.
7. Present your requests in writing, even when the initial appeal was verbal. This will help prevent misunderstandings and confusions later.
8. Assure them that you will fulfill your responsibilities and accomplish all assigned tasks. Present a specific way for you to “make-up” for anytime spent in prayer or other religious activities.
9. Keep a dated record. Include who you talked to, what your request was, and whether it was accommodated.
10. Be flexible and willing to do your part. End the meeting discussing potential accommodations the same way you started – with an attitude of peace and cooperation.
Ultimately, when and how you present your case goes a long way in the end result. Taking the above steps seriously will almost always ensure appropriate accommodation. If, however, you have taken the necessary measures with a cooperative attitude and your employer refuses, you may have to take legal action. In this case, be careful, be cautious, and be certain that you have covered all the bases.
Award Staffing is a diversified staffing company. We hire associates based on skills, experience, education and their fit to a company’s culture. We work with equal opportunity employers, who do not discriminate on religious or other diversities. Contact us today if you are looking for a new job opportunity.