Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer cannot discriminate on the basis of religion. Of course, this includes an employer that makes hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation decisions based on a person’s faith. However, Title VII also more broadly protects employees from having the “terms and conditions” of their employment affected because of their religious beliefs. This means that Texas employers should reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs or practices if an employee’s beliefs conflict with the employer’s work requirements.
Common accommodations include an employer allowing for an employee to maintain a flexible schedule, allowing employees to swap shifts when necessary, and also potentially allowing for an employee’s reassignment. A reasonable accommodation may also relate to an employer’s dress or grooming policies. For example, by allowing an employee to wear a head covering or allowing employees to maintain facial hair. In addition, an employee’s request not to wear a specific article of clothing, such as pants or a skirt, may also be the basis for a religious accommodation. Only requests that are based on sincerely held religious beliefs will require an accommodation. However, the term “religion” is broadly defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and includes strongly held moral and ethical beliefs.
To obtain a religious accommodation, a Texas employee must first notify their employer of their request. Typically, this should be done in writing and should explain that the employee’s request is based on a sincerely held religious belief. In some cases, an employer will need more time to determine what would need to be done to provide the accommodation. This is supposed to be an interactive process between employee and employer, as the employer attempts to determine how it could implement a satisfactory accommodation. An employer must make a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would cause the employer to suffer an undue hardship.
Employers may claim that an accommodation would result in an undue hardship in hopes of avoiding the need to make an accommodation. However, an undue hardship is something more than a minimal burden. An accommodation may cause an employer to suffer an undue hardship if it is too costly, infringes on the rights of other employees, decreases workplace efficiency, compromises workplace safety, or unfairly shifts a burden onto other employees.
Is Your Employer Refusing to Make a Reasonable Accommodation?
If your employer is refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation based on your sincerely held religious beliefs, contact the dedicated Dallas employment discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Rob Wiley, P.C. At Rob Wiley, we represent Texas employees in a wide range of employment-related issues, including discrimination claims, retaliation claims, and wage-and-hour matters. We have decades of collective experience and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation.