EEOC Emphasizes the Importance of Providing Appropriate Accommodations for Religious Attire and Grooming Practices in the Workplace

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As religious diversity in the United States increases, and in light of the ever- present role of religion in international political tensions, religious discrimination claims have increased in recent years. Charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) asserting religious discrimination have consistently exceeded 3,000 each year since 2008 and totaled 3,721 in the EEOC’s fiscal year 2013, per the EEOC Charge Statistics.

A component of the prohibition against religious discrimination under Title VII is a requirement that a covered employer reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious belief to the extent that doing so does not create an undue hardship on the employer. The obligation of an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious belief is less onerous than a request for an accommodation of disability. An employer is not required to accommodate a religious belief if to do so would impose more than a de minimis burden on the employee. For example, it has been recognized that an employer is not required to grant a request for an accommodation that shifts a material burden to co-workers, impairs workplace safety, violates a seniority system or imposes more than a de minimis cost on the business.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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