By: Karen Piper
The EEOC has added a new Fact Sheet on religious discrimination to its youth-oriented web page, Youth@Work. This web page was created in 2004 to provide a “national education and outreach campaign” for younger workers.
The web page includes a link to several EEOC Fact Sheets targeted at younger workers. The latest Fact Sheet on religious discrimination was announced on July 22, 2016: “Religion & Your Job Rights.”
This Fact Sheet states the basics rule on discrimination on the basis of religion: treating an employee differently, or harassing an employee, because of his or her religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs is illegal. It also notifies employees they can seek “workplace changes” because of their religious practices or beliefs. The Fact Sheet provides three examples which are very simplistic.
1) Allowing a Catholic employee who attends early morning Mass on Wednesdays to start later than her usual 7 a.m. shift on Wednesdays where there are other shifts available is a reasonable accommodation.
2) Assigning a Muslim woman who wore a hijab to an interview for a grocery store cashier job to work in the back room because “having ‘someone who prays to the same God as terrorists” working at the front of the store would make customers uncomfortable is discriminatory.
3) Mocking a clothing store employee who is Hindu for wearing a bindi (red dot on her forehead) by saying the bindi is “silly,” drawing a red dot on the manager’s forehead, and handing out red dots to all employees to wear because the store is “offering a ‘red dot’ discount to Hindus” is harassment.
The Fact Sheet includes information on how to file a charge of discrimination.
If younger workers begin asking for religious accommodation, consult experienced employment counsel, such as the author. The reasonable accommodation obligation for accommodating an employee’s religious beliefs and practices is much less burdensome than the reasonable accommodation obligation for accommodating an employee with a disability.
This article was written by Karen L. Piper, who is Secretary of the Board of Detroit SHRM, a member of its Legal Affairs Committee, and a Member of Bodman PLC, which represents employers, only, in Workplace Law. Ms. Piper can be reached at Bodman’s Troy office at (248) 743-6025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit SHRM encourages members to share these articles with others, inside and outside their organization, as long as its name and logo, and the author’s information, is included in the re-post of the article. August 2016.