Under Title VII to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on a number of criteria, including religion. Of course, under Title VII, employers are prohibited from making hiring or firing decisions based on a person’s religion, but the protection granted to employees under Title VII goes beyond that. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency given broad authority to oversee the enforcement of Title VII.
Employers must also allow for certain accommodations to be made for an employee’s religious beliefs. According to the EEOC, the following are examples of accommodations that employers have been required to make based on an employee’s religion:
- Allowing an exception to be made for an employee dress code;
- Permitting an employee to take time off for a religious holiday;
- Excusing an employee from a staff prayer or other religious invocation;
- Granting an employee permission to pray at certain times of the day;
- Keeping an employee off the schedule during their day of Sabbath or worship.
While this list serves as good guidance for some of the more common accommodations, the list of potential accommodations goes well beyond those referenced here. There are, however, some limitations to when an employer must make an accommodation for an employee’s religious beliefs.
First, the belief requiring an accommodation must be religious in nature. Courts have broadly defined “religion” to include more than the world’s major religions, counting new or uncommon religious groups that may only have a small number of practitioners. Courts have also extended the protections of Title VII to atheists.
Regardless of the belief at issue, courts require that it be sincerely held by the employee. This does not necessarily require an employee to have a long-standing history of practicing a certain religion or that the employee consistently must observe the belief requiring an accommodation, only that the employee is sincere in the request that their religious belief is the reason for the accommodation.
Can an Employer Refuse to Make an Accommodation?
Aside from the above reasons, an employer may deny an employee’s request for a religious accommodation under very limited circumstances. Specifically, the employer must establish that honoring the employee’s request for an accommodation would cause the business an “undue hardship.” The burden of establishing an undue hardship rests with the employer, and is a very fact-specific determination.
Has Your Employer Denied You a Religious Accommodation?
If you have recently requested a religious accommodation from your employer and been denied, contact the Dallas employment law firm of Rob Wiley, P.C. Attorney Rob Wiley has assembled a dedicated team of Texas employment discrimination attorneys who can help you understand whether your rights were violated and what you can do about it. Instances of Texas employment discrimination are understandably difficult for employees who want nothing more than to be able to do their job while still practicing their religion. We understand these frustrations, and treat every client with the dignity and respect they deserve. To learn more, call 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation with a Dallas employment attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
The Intersection Between Title VII and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Rules Regarding Accent Discrimination, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2018.
ADA Guidelines Regarding Disclosing Disabilities During Interviews, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2018.