Religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC have increased over the years, rising to 3,721 private sector discrimination charges in fiscal year 2013. An EEOC religious discrimination charge resulted in the United States Justice Department filing a lawsuit on March 5, 2014 against the School District of Philadelphia in which it claimed the school district’s grooming policy failed to accommodate the religious beliefs of a school police officer.
The EEOC recently posted a one-page fact sheet on its website which offers information on how Title VII applies to religious dress and grooming practices in the workplace. A lengthier EEOC question-and-answer guide is accessible through the fact sheet.
Employers should ensure that managers are informed of religious dress and grooming issues under Title VII. The EEOC’s technical assistance is a good resource for this information.