Category Archives: Religious Discrimination

Quirky Question #210, Employee Meals – Vegan Beliefs as a Religion

Question:

We subsidize a different meal in our employee cafeteria each week.  For example, last week hamburgers were only $2.00 instead of $5.00.  Usually we subsidize meat dishes.  A vegan employee has protested we do not similarly subsidize vegan dishes and has stated that our failure to do so constitutes religious discrimination.  This can’t be correct – right? Answer→

Quirky Question #202, Religious Accommodation

Question:

We have a group of employees who are Muslim and want to be allowed to take additional prayer breaks during Ramadan.   We would rather just have them take the whole day off as vacation rather than work a different shift than other employees with long breaks interspersed throughout the day.  Aren’t we safe telling them that they should take the day off? Answer→

Quirky Question # 181: Weekend Work and Religious Accommodations

Question:

Our company operates seven days a week. Periodically, employees advise us that working on Saturdays or Sundays interferes with their religious beliefs. When possible, we let employees juggle their schedules to accommodate the belief systems of their co-workers. And, sometimes, we require our employees to adjust their schedules to accommodate their co-workers.

Every now and then, however, accommodations are hard to reach. This is particularly true when the employees who otherwise might be available to adjust their schedules have greater seniority than the employees who are requesting the accommodation. They point out that their collective bargaining agreement gives them the right to reject our company’s request for the accommodation.

How should we reconcile the conflict between the religious beliefs of certain employees and the seniority rights of other employees? Do we have to accommodate the religious beliefs or risk a Title VII violation? Answer→

Another Religious Accommodation Issue, Quirky Question # 122

Quirky Question # 122:

I read the religious discrimination question posed to your colleague in Seattle.  We have a slightly different issue.  All of our employees are required to wear identification tags when they are in our buildings.  The IDs have their pictures on them.  One of our employees recently advised us that it violated his religious beliefs to have his photo taken or to include his photo on the ID tag he wears.  He has asked us to accommodate his religious beliefs by foregoing our requirement of photo IDs.  We believe that the photo IDs serve a number of important purposes at our company.  Must we accommodate his request to provide him special treatment on this issue. Answer→

Accommodating Religious Beliefs, Quirky Question # 120

Quirky Question # 120:

Our retail company has mandatory weekly sales meetings which occur across town from one of the store branches.  Each week, our store branch manager and his four salespersons must come from across town to the sales meeting.  Many of the salespersons are part-time employees and students, and consequently take public transportation to work.  The employees who are working a shift during which the meeting occurs have two options for getting to the weekly sales meeting:  (1) take public transportation; or (2) carpool with the store manager.  Two of the salespersons are male, two are female.

In the past, the store branch manager has driven the salespersons to the weekly sales meeting.  Recently, a new branch manager has been hired, and this arrangement is no longer working.  The new branch manager refuses, for what appears to be bona fide religious reasons, to carpool alone with any female employee.  The practical outcome of this situation is that when only one female employee needs a ride to the mandatory weekly sales meeting, she is usually left taking public transportation at the last minute because of the branch manager’s refusal to drive her to the meeting.  Female employees have been late, and sometimes missed the meeting as a result.  The female employees have complained to Human Resources.  The branch manager has explained the religious belief to the company.

The company has informed the branch manager that it is his responsibility to ensure that his employees are at the weekly sales meeting, and that he will be penalized if they are not because of his refusal to carpool.  The company’s human resources manager is troubled by this situation.  What should we do? Answer→

Long Hair and Religion, Quirky Question # 95

Quirky Question # 95:

I read with interest your analyses of beards and facial jewelry in the context of religious discrimination claims.  Maybe I’m beating this topical horse to death, but we’ve encountered a situation where an employee is claiming that his long hair is linked to his religious beliefs.  He refuses to cut his hair despite our clear “grooming policy” set forth in our Employee Handbook.

Do we have to accommodate the employee’s desire to have long hair?  I feel as though our company (and every other employer) is losing control over how our employees look.  Your guidance is appreciated. Answer→

Nose Rings, Facial Jewelry and Religion, Quirky Question # 92

Quirky Question # 92:

We have an employee who wears a nose ring.  Because she interacts regularly with the public, and because we have a “no facial jewelry” policy, we asked her to remove the nose ring.  She claims, however, that she wears the nose ring for “religious” reasons.  We’ve asked her to inform us of the religion that requires nose rings but she has not been forthcoming on that issue.  Our inclination is to terminate her employment if she does not modify her behavior and remove the nose ring.

I thought we had the right to control our company’s public image.  Can’t we impose certain appearance standards upon our employees?  What’s your advice? Answer→