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Further, the number of religious discrimination charges filed with EEOC has more than doubled from 1992 to 2007, although the total number of such charges remains relatively small compared to charges filed on other bases.
This Section of the Compliance Manual is designed to be a practical resource for employers, employees, practitioners, and EEOC enforcement staff on Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination.
Title VII requires employers to accommodate religious beliefs, practices, and observances if the beliefs are “sincerely held” and the reasonable accommodation poses no undue hardship on the employer.
Religion includes not only traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but also religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or that seem illogical or unreasonable to others.
EXAMPLE 3 Types of Religious Practice or Observance A Catholic employee requests a schedule change so that he can attend church services on Good Friday.
A Muslim employee requests an exception to the company’s dress and grooming code allowing her to wear her headscarf, or a Hindu employee requests an exception allowing her to wear her bindi (religious forehead marking).
Solely with respect to religion, Title VII also requires reasonable accommodation of employees’” cost or burden -- a substantially lower standard for employers to satisfy than the “undue hardship” defense under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is defined instead as “significant difficulty or expense.” The prohibition on discrimination and the requirement of reasonable accommodation apply whether the religious views in question are mainstream or non-traditional, and even if not recognized by any organized religion.
These protections also extend to those who profess no religious beliefs.
A qualified non-Jewish employee is denied promotion because the supervisor wishes to give a preference based on religion to a fellow Jewish employee.The Section defines religious discrimination, discusses typical scenarios in which religious discrimination may arise, and provides guidance to employers on how to balance the needs of individuals in a diverse religious climate.Some charges of religious discrimination may raise multiple claims, for example requiring analysis under disparate treatment, harassment, and denial of reasonable accommodation theories of liability.Determining whether a practice is religious turns not on the nature of the activity, but on the employee’s motivation.The same practice might be engaged in by one person for religious reasons and by another person for purely secular reasons.
However, these First Amendment issues are referenced throughout this document in order to illustrate how they often arise in Title VII cases.