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Religious Discrimination

Employees may hold religious beliefs that can conflict with established policies in your company. To avoid charges of religious discrimination, your company must make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs. Typically, the employee should be allowed an exception to the policy when the policy conflicts with religious belief.

Your company must allow time for religious practice, including:

Religious holidays

Observing the Sabbath

Attending worship services

Daily prayer, ritual, or meditation

Your company should have a policy covering how employees will or won’t be paid for work time missed because of religious practice. Employees may be asked to “clock out” during prayers or take the holiday as PTO / vacation / unpaid leave. This is not religious discrimination. Your company cannot refuse the request (e.g. if an employee requests leave for Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday, your company must grant it, paid or unpaid).

Your company must allow employees to express their religion in:

  • Hair style, including cutting or not cutting hair and dreadlocks
  • Facial hair, including mustaches and beards
  • Religious clothing, including headscarves, hijabs, burkas, and turbans
  • Tattoos that are part of a religious or ethnic practice
  • Wearing a dress even if policy or dress code requires pants or a skirt

Your company must prevent disparaging remarks about someone’s religion. Allowing your employees to make disparaging remarks about other people of a religious faith, holy texts, practices, or holidays, as well as ascribing the actions of individuals or groups to the entire faith, conspire to create a hostile work environment for employees of that religion. This is religious harassment.