"When the Magi came from the East to worship before the baby Jesus, Christianity gave notice that it was destined to become a world religion. And when those same Wise Men chose to disobey King Herod by leaving the country without reporting on the Christ child's whereabouts, they signaled that loyalty to Christ would trump all other authority. Since then, non-Christians have consistently reacted strongly to the Christian doctrine that Christ alone is 'the way, the truth and the life.' " (Ye shall, 40) An employee approached me this past with week with a request to take off an extra hour with her lunch on Friday, April 13, 2001. She explained to me that she planned on attending a religious service and didn't we have a policy that stated that I was required to give her time off for religious reasons.
I replied that I thought there was and I could check with HR (Human Resources Department) for the details, or she could just fill out a request for the time off and give it to me. She filled out an Absence Approval form and brought it to me. I signed it and returned it to her. We were short staffed that day, and it was a slight inconvenience.
(I ended up working through lunch and didn't get to work on my schoolwork. ) The message I was trying to get across to her was that I would make every effort to grant a reasonable request to an employee. An employer who has the best interest of their employee at heart is unlikely to have trouble with equal opportunity regulations. The Statutory Basis for Religious Discrimination is as follows: It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -- (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's... religion... or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's religion...
42 U. S. C. 20002-2 (a). Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... First Amendment to the U.
S. Constitution. (Bennett-Alexander, 341) The only legislation that specifically prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace is Title VII. Under Title VII, Religious Discrimination is different from most of the other categories in that it requires an employer to reasonably accommodate employee's religious beliefs as long as it does not place an undue hardship on the employer. It is "the employer's duty to try to find a way to avoid conflict between workplace policies and an employee's religious practices or beliefs." An undue hardship would be "a burden imposed on an employer, by accommodating an employee's religious conflict, that would be too onerous for the employer to bear." (Bennett-Alexander, 342) Long-standing practices of organizations are important in the outcome of religious discrimination cases. "The Ninth Circuit U.
S. Court of Appeals ruled in Balin t v. Carson City that an applicant who was hired because she refused to work weekend shifts that interfered with her religious observance could not sustain a claim of religious discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act." (Law at Work, 33) There was a long-standing practice of scheduling shifts according to a bidding system by seniority in place. "The ninth circuit distinguished this case, wherein shifts could not be traded, from Opuku-Boe teng v. California, in which an employer refused to accommodate a Seventh-day Adventist who did not want to work on the Sabbath." (Law at Work, 33) Trading shifts was permitted in Opuku-Boating. Religious organizations who require their employees to be a member of the sponsoring church are not in violation of the U.
S. Constitution's establishment clause according to Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Amos. Amos, who was employed by The Deseret Gymnasium, was let go when he did not qualify for a temple recommend. (Bennett-Alexander, 344-347) Religious rights in the workplace do not mean that an employee can try to force their beliefs on other employees. In Chalmers v.
Tulon Company or Richmond, Chalmers felt compelled, because of her religious beliefs, to write letters to two of her co-workers regarding certain behaviors that the "Lord wanted me to share." Chalmers sincerity was not questioned; however the disturbing effect the letters had on her fellow employees was found not be covered under a religious accommodation claim. "Tulon's proffered reasons for discharging Chalmers -- because her letters, which criticized her fellow employees' privacy, offended them and damaged her working relationships -- are legitimate and nondiscriminatory." (Bennett-Alexander, 364-368) Employers can often get into trouble in the area of Religious Discrimination because they are not aware of the possible scenarios that can result in religious discrimination. To help my company avoid possible conflicts I would recommend the following basic rules: omake all employee notices of religious conflicts seriously; oonce an employee puts the employer on notice of a religious conflict, the employer should immediately try to find ways to avoid the conflict; oask the employee with the conflict for suggestions on avoiding the conflict; oask other employees of they can be of assistance, but make it clear that they are not required to do so; o keep workplace religious comments and criticisms to a minimum; omake sure all employees understand that they are not to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion; oonce an employee expresses conflict based on religion, do not challenge the employee's religious beliefs, though it is permissible to make sure of the conflict; omake sure undue hardship actually exists if it is claimed; orevisit issues such as Christmas bonuses and Christmas parties to see if it is more appropriate to use more inclusive language such as "holiday" to cover employees who do not celebrate the Christian Christmas; orevisit the issue of granting leave for religious events and make sure it does not favor one religion over another, such as giving employees paid leave for Christmas, but requiring them to take their own leave for other religious holidays such as Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur; and omake sure food at workplace events is inclusive of all employees, regardless of religion, such as having kosher for at least nonpork or seafood) items for Jewish employees, having alternatives to alcoholic beverages for those who do not drink for religious reasons, or having nonpork items for Muslims, and so on. Asking employees what religious dietary limitations they have or having employees bring a dish to share is an easy way to handle this. (Bennett-Alexander, 382) The employee's right to practice their religion is protected in the workplace. The employer is not allowed to discriminate against any employee because of their religious beliefs and is required to make reasonable accommodations unless it would create an undue hardship.
An employer cannot question the sincerity or practicality of an employee's religious beliefs. The main question employers need to ask themselves is: "Do you care enough about your neighbor to respect his faith?" (Lloyd, 2).