What to Do When Your Employer Won’t Accommodate Religious Practices
Identifying and resolving religious accommodation problems starts with understanding what type of religious protections the law provides for employees. Ensuring that an employer meets its legal obligation to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and practices can be difficult. A great deal of this difficulty stems from the fact that what type and degree of accommodation counts as “reasonable” varies for each person, setting, and situation. For that reason, courts that hear religious discrimination cases decide each one on its own merits, meaning that no set rules spell out what constitute illegal and impermissible actions.
An open level of communication between the employer and the employee will help establish an equal understanding of the employee’s religious practices and any requested accommodation. That knowledge must inform a process of notification and negotiation to develop accommodations, as well as reporting potential violations of relevant federal and/or state laws. It is important that the employer be made aware of the religious practice at issue, in order for the employer to accommodate the employee. A well-developed process for answering questions related to religious accommodation exists, and both employers and employees can enlist advice and representation from a religious discrimination lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, while going through that process.
Understand Your Religious Rights as an Employee
Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against any employee or job applicant on the basis of religion. A nearly identical Ohio state statute provides the same protections to express one’s faith and engage in religious observations without losing a job or being denied a job opportunity. Specifically, and quoting directly from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) factsheet, religious beliefs and practices cannot be the principal reason for “hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.”
Importantly, employment laws cover both people who are extremely devout and atheists. Further, sincerely held personal, moral, and ethical beliefs merit the same protections and reasonable accommodations as do tenets of traditional religions.
Last, no employer can force workers or jobseekers to express certain beliefs or perform certain rituals as conditions of keeping or getting a job.
An Employee Must Work With His or Her Employer to Secure Accommodations
Employers and employees do not always agree on what it means to accommodate religious practices. State and federal laws acknowledge this reality by requiring engagement and negotiation.
The first step in that process involves the employee informing his or her supervisor of which religious accommodations are sought. Managers and executives can also be notified. Typical accommodations include
- Time and privacy to pray during work hours
- Time off for religious holidays and services
- Exemptions from dress codes and appearance guidelines (e.g., no pants for women, beards for men, head coverings indoors)
- Shift trading
- Lateral transfers (i.e., same pay and responsibilities with different tasks)
It can help to get a Columbus religious discrimination law firm involved after an employee requests an accommodation and the employer is inclined to refuse to alter anything about the person’s job or worksite. Legally, a company, government agency, or nonprofit organization can decline a request for a religious accommodation if making changes would
- Impose significant costs
- Reduce productivity to a great extent
- Put other employees at risk
- Shift a large number of difficult or dangerous tasks to co-workers
- Violate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement
- Infringe on co-workers’ religious rights
Recognize Violations of Religious Protections
Refusing to engage with an employee when he or she asks for a religious accommodation may constitute employment discrimination. So may declining a request when the employer cannot prove that making the religious accommodation would have more than a minimal impact on the organization, its expenses and operations, or its other workers.
Other forms that religious discrimination in an employment context can take include
- Constant and harsh harassment (e.g., insults, offensive jokes, threats)
- Physical assault and mistreatment
- Denial of job offers, promotions, raises, or benefits
- Job segregation, which the EEOC defines as assigning tasks based on the idea that a worker’s religion would offend customers or co-workers
Consult With an Attorney
Anyone who believes he or she is being discriminated against based on religion should document each questionable incident as fully as possible. Concerns and evidence should then be presented to a religious discrimination lawyer in Columbus, who will have the experience and knowledge to assess the situation and offer legal options.
Seeking a knowledgeable opinion before filing an official complaint with an agency like the EEOC will help the employee understand if he or she has a case, what additional information may need to be gathered, and how to write a complaint so that it has the greatest chance of holding a discriminating employer accountable.
You can schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation with an attorney from the Friedman Firm by calling 614.610.9755 or filling out this online contact form. As a religious discrimination law firm in Columbus, we ensure full compliance with all federal and state employment laws.
Rachel was absolutely amazing. As an attorney she really took the time to really listen to my concerns. She was honest and kept me informed every step of the way. The outcome was favorable on my behalf and I appreciate her efforts to achieve a good outcome. I would highly recommend her and the Friedmann firm to represent me if ever needed in future.
Working with Rachel Sabo from Friedmann Firm was absolutely amazing! She upholds integrity, honesty and without a doubt fights for what is right! Rachel was extremely transparent and real! Please don’t let wrong be right, Rachel will strive to advocate and put her whole heart in obtaining resolve in your situation! What an absolute blessing, she won my case in less than 1 week💪
My experience with the Friedmann Firm is an absolute 5 stars. From my very first call with Karen, to all of my communication with Rachel, everything exceeded all of my expectations. Rachel and Karen were so caring and understanding in a very sensitive situation. They responded immediately to any questions or concerns I had. I would HIGHLY recommend the Friedmann Firm. They are caring, professional, understanding, and I would trust them with any issue I have in the future.
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm were fantastic to work with. The thought of needing an employment lawyer was scary for me, it was confusing and complex. But Rachel listened, asked questions and took time to really understand me and my priorities. I felt calm, supported and excited for the first time in weeks after talking to her!! We worked together to review everything, set expectations and meet my priorities! Thanks Rachel and team for all your work!!!
Rachel Friedmann of the Friedman Firm was my attorney for a very recent legal matter. I would highly recommend Rachel based on her legal knowledge, her honest appraisal of the matter and expected outcomes, her open communication and timely responses to my questions and the matter itself, and her steadfastness in dealing with the opposing counsel until a final agreement was reached.
Rachel and her staff went over and above the call of duty to help me achieve fiscal resolution to my legal issue. She wasn’t always available to talk but was always responsive via text and email when in court out of the office and even on vacation. I feel she earned her percentage cut.
Couldn’t be happier with the representation I received from Jamie Bailey on my civil litigation case. She worked tirelessly to resolve the case and in the end negotiated a fair settlement on my behalf. I would highly recommend her to anyone! Thanks for everything Friedman law firm.
Friedman Firm was a great help in a difficult time in my life. They went above and beyond to get me back on track. Rachel was so good to work with and is extremely knowledgeable about the law and employment rights. Can't thank them enough for all there hard work. Highly recommend them to anyone.
The Friedmann Firm (specifically Pete Friedmann) represented me through what seemed like a never ending employment discrimination suit. The suit was filed just before Covid shut everything down in 2020. Add to that a former employer who refused to admit fault. In spite of all of that, Pete stood resolute in his representation of me and working for the best outcome for me. We ended up settling prior to trial and I was more than satisfied with the results. Pete was always available to answer questions and reassure me throughout this process. I highly recommend The Friedmann Firm!
Pete Friedmann and his firm are fantastic. He represented me for more than a year going through a suit with a previous employer. He walked me through every step of the process and was always quick to respond to any questions I had. My settlement came in and we parted ways with both sides being pleased with the outcome. I highly recommend the Friedmann firm and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again in the future if the need arose. Thank you, Pete!
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm have been amazing to work with. Rachel was very helpful, listened to our concerns and took our case. She communicated well throughout and really worked for us. We were very well represented!
I loved working with The Friedmann Firm. Rachel and Jamie are exceptional lawyers and were diligent in reviewing my case and letting me know of my options. Jamie was extremely thorough and handled even the smallest details of my case with ease. The entire process was seamless and they were always quick to respond to emails and calls. I would definitely recommend working with The Friedmann Firm.
I would recommend Rachel Sabo Friedmann and the Friedmann firm for severance negotiations. Rachel was always available and responsive and made an effort to ensure I was updated on every step of the process. Her diligent efforts produced a prompt resolution and we are very happy with the results!