Most every worker in the United States is entitled to protections in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One right employees are entitled to are accommodations for their religious practices or beliefs. The way religion is defined and what’s considered as reasonable religious accommodations may surprise you.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines the concept of religion quite broadly. A worker who is affiliated with a religion such as Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or Judaism may be considered as a religious individual. So too may someone who practices less known religions or upholds beliefs held by a small sect. Atheists are entitled to certain protections as well. EEOC guidelines state that personal preferences, political ideologies and economic or social beliefs shouldn’t be misconstrued as religious beliefs.
There are many different accommodations that an employee may request of their employer.
A worker may ask to be given an alternate work schedule so that they can attend an important religious or ritual service or pray. Another employee may request to wear a modified version of their employer’s dress code so that what they wear better aligns with their religion’s modesty standards.
Employees may also request to be excused from having to be in the room for a religious invocation if it goes against their belief system because they’re an atheist. An employee that disagrees with the use of birth control may also be able to request not to have to service customers requesting such products.
Workers may request and receive special accommodations from their employer to practice their religion provided that it doesn’t create an undue hardship for them. If an employer can prove that they have inadequate staffing, the accommodation violates the leadership hierarchy, costs too much or jeopardizes the health and security of others, then they might not have to offer it.
Charleston employers may face penalties under both West Virginia and federal law if they fail to protect the religious freedoms of their workers. An attorney can help you determine if your rights have been violated and let you know what type of legal action that you may be able to take if that’s indeed the case.