Accommodating respectful religious expression in the workplace

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This article explores the obligation to accommodate diverse religions and cultures and the impact on employment.

While individuals’ right to express their individual beliefs and values is not in question, can companies permit different groups to dominate, intimidate or exclude each other; or present a serious and costly hindrance to productivity?

The employee must also provide an explicit explanation of the religious observation. While both the ADA and Title VII require a “reasonable accommodation” unless it is an “undue hardship,” the undue hardship threshold under Title VII religious accommodation claims is lower than the standard for undue hardship under the ADA.

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Title VII requires three things to establish a case for religious discrimination: (1) the employee holds a sincere belief that conflicts with a job requirement; (2) the employee informs the employer; and (3) employee was disciplined for failing to comply with the conflicting requirement.Therefore, a condition like cancer, that is not currently impairing the individual, would still be a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity “when active.” B.Discrimination Based on Religion Religious discrimination claims are fraught with contradiction.On the one hand, it is illegal to treat applicants or employees differently based on their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – in any aspect of employment.On the other, employers must take an employee’s religion into account when making certain workplace decisions and cannot deny a requested reasonable accommodation.

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