Understanding religious practice accommodations in the workplace

Understanding religious practice accommodations in the workplace

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Discrimination

Understanding accommodations in the workplace is essential for fostering an inclusive and respectful work environment. Among other considerations, it is important to explore the balance between employees’ rights to express their faith and employers’ operational needs.

Below are basic information about religious practice accommodations employers and employees should know to ensure both their rights are protected.

Examples of religious accommodations

There are several ways an employer can adjust to accommodate their employees’ need to practice their religious beliefs and practices in the workplace. Common examples of these adjustments include the following:

  • Flexible schedules: This includes providing flexible work hours or shifts to allow employees to observe prayer times and holy days.
  • Dress and grooming code modifications: This includes permitting employees to dress in their religious attire in the workplace and allowing beards if the employer normally prohibits it.
  • Workplace adjustments: This includes providing a private space for meditation, prayer or other religious observance.
  • Dietary accommodations: This includes providing for or allowing space for religious dietary practices in workplace cafeterias or at company events.

Depending on the situation, employers may allow other company policy modifications to accommodate their employees’ religious practices.

The limitation to the accommodations

The law requires employers to accommodate their employees’ religious practices to an extent that is reasonable. An accommodation is reasonable if it allows an employee to practice their religion without posing undue hardship to the employer. Meaning, the adjustment should not cause substantial burden or losses upon the employer, considering its impact on the company’s operations and costs.

What happens when the employer refuses these accommodations?

An employer who refuses to accommodate their employee’s religious practices may face discrimination claims against them. This can also put the company at a bad light within the workforce. Hence, it is essential for employers to reasonably accommodate their employees’ religious practices and beliefs.

Employers and employees should keep themselves informed of the employment and anti-discrimination laws applicable to them to ensure the protection of their rights.