Religious Discrimination and Accomodations, Quirky Question # 57
Quirky Question # 57:
Our retail firm used to operate six days a week. We recently decided however, that we needed to remain open on Sundays to ensure that we can compete effectively with other similar retailers, many of whom have been operating 7 days/week for some time. When we made the decision to keep our stores open on Sundays, we advised our employees that we would establish a rotating shift system to spread the Sunday burden among all of our employees.
When we announced this new approach, we received objections from several of our employees who advised us that they consider Sundays to be “family time” and who stated that they did not want to work on Sundays. We informed these employees that we could not accommodate their concerns without causing resentment among the other employees who then would be compelled to work additional Sunday shifts to cover for them.
Soon thereafter, two of these employees came to us and told us that they could not work on Sundays due to their religious beliefs. Frankly, I do not even know what their religious beliefs are. They certainly have not seemed very devout in the past.
Does our company have to accommodate their demands to avoid Sunday work? I suspect it will create considerable animosity among the other employees, especially those who also expressed frustration with a Sunday work schedule. Moreover, it is going to be difficult (and costly) for us to find alternative employees to work on Sundays.
It seems to me as though there are a lot of “religious discrimination” cases in the news these days. Do we have to honor these employees’ requests? If we don’t, would we be liable for religious discrimination? Answer→