Is My Employer Required to Accommodate My Religious Beliefs?

Do you feel that your religious rights are being violated in your workplace? Maybe you have been overlooked for a promotion based on your faith, or perhaps you have been denied proper accommodations to practice your religion. If so, your employer could very well be violating the civil rights of the people he or she employs. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer is not to discriminate against an employee because of their religious preference. This law covers a broad spectrum of work-related activities such as hiring, firing, compensation, and promotions. It is unlawful for these factors to be decided on due to an employees’ faith. Title VII requires employers to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs and practices unless doing so would put an undue hardship on the employer.

What is religious accommodation:

To accommodate an employees’ religious rights means allowing the employee to engage in their religious practices despite the employer’s normal rules to the contrary. Religion is not a trait such as race, age, or gender, but instead, it is a characteristic of a human being. A persons’ religion is a system of specific beliefs that a person lives by and part of what makes up the character of who he or she is. Therefore, the obligation to accommodate an employees’ religious needs arises from the very nature of religion itself. Employee religious accommodations are all about flexibility. The following are some ways an employer can reasonably accommodate an employee.

Changes in Job Duties:

If your job duties conflict with your religious beliefs, your employer will be required to modify your work to a reasonable degree. One good example of this is in the medical field. If you are working in a hospital as a nurse and a specific medial task or assignment goes against your religious beliefs, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your religious beliefs. You, the employee, must make it known to your employer about your religious conviction and provide a sound basis and reasons for your request.


Another example of accommodation are changes in scheduling. There may be specific days a worker requires off for a religious holiday. The employer would legally have to consider this an excused absence. Some religions require that prayers be made at a specific time during a normal workday. Employers would not only be required to allow them the time needed for prayer but may also be required to facilitate a space for them to do so.

Dress and Grooming:

Most companies have policies in place for requirements on dress and grooming. This is especially true of Executives at a professional entity. They may require men to be clean-shaven with short hair. An employer may have to make an exception for a man whose faith requires him not to cut his hair. A Muslim woman may feel that she must wear a Burka, a long garment covering the whole body from head to feet, and possibly wear a niqab to cover her face to meet her religious standards. Dress and grooming policies are an area that should be able to be modified without serious hardship to the employer.

If you have found yourself being denied these basic rights at your place of work, please contact Scott Gilmore Thompson today and speak with Matt Scott, an employment lawyer that specializes in workplace religious discrimination.