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Religious accommodation and undue hardship

There are a lot of laws and regulations that businesses must abide by if they hope to avoid litigation. When you’re trying to stay focused on conducting business, it can be easy to lose sight of some of these regulations. That’s why it’s oftentimes helpful to consult with an experienced legal team when issues arise or if you hope to avoid complaints being filed against you. We hope that this blog will provide you with some general information to get you thinking about what you can do to protect your business so that you can determine if further action is necessary. This week, let’s briefly look at religious accommodations and minimal hardship.

What is religious accommodation?

Federal law requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious belief, even if that belief is new or inconsistently observed. Proving that a religious belief isn’t sincerely held is difficult, so it’s oftentimes best for employers to err on the side of caution here. A religious accommodation may require an employer to make changes to a worker’s schedule for the observance of a religious holiday, allow certain religiously-affiliated clothing in the workplace, and even allow some employees to forego any religion-related activities at your business.

But do you have to accommodate all religion-based requests?

The answer is “no.” The law makes an exception to the reasonable accommodation requirement when making those accommodations would impose something more than a minimal hardship. So if you’re hoping to avoid a reasonable accommodation, then you’ll want to consider factors such as the cost of the accommodation, its affect on staffing levels, and other ways that it might negatively impact your business. Preferences amongst you, your workers, and customers cannot render the accommodation an undue hardship, so you’ll want to exercise some caution when dealing with this issue.

A lot at risk when dealing with religious discrimination

Discrimination and harassment claims of all kinds are quite serious and can quickly derail your business’s financial well-being and damage its reputation and goodwill. You certainly don’t want that, so why put it all on the line with a weak defense strategy? Instead, consider working closely with an attorney who knows how to address these and other employment law-related matters.