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Handling Different Religious Beliefs in the Workplace

By Edited Jan 25, 2016 0 1

Workers in the US are composed not only of American citizens but also of people with other nationalities or religions. Because of the huge difference between cultures, tensions often build up in offices or just about anywhere in the country. Conflict arises, which may lead to bigger trouble and hostile actions from disagreeing parties.

However, the tension is not limited to a US citizen and a foreign worker. Sometimes even those who are of common nationality disagree over opposing ideas that they feel strongly about, normally something about religion. That is because US citizens have the freedom to choose any religion that they want to practice under the First Amendment.

Every company or employer that has more than 15 employees is under the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This states that employers are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, sex, nationality or religion, and are required to give reasonable religious accommodation to their employees. Sen. John Kerry introduced an additional law on September 1999 called the Workplace Religious Freedom Act which made religious accommodation easier to receive. Aside from these two, there are other state laws that are against religious discrimination.

Accommodating religious beliefs in the workplace may include giving a reasonable day-off in observance of a religious holiday, flexible scheduling, voluntary substitutions, job reassignment, and lateral transfers that may help the employees adapt to their religious rituals. An employer is only allowed to deny accommodation if it would cause "undue hardship" to the company.

Undue hardship happens when the accommodation costs the company more than their de minimis cost. The accommodation may also lessen the efficiency in other jobs around the company, violate the other employees' rights and benefits, and deny job or shift preference to an employee who has been working longer for the employer.

Religious organizations and religious educational institutions are exempted from certain discrimination provisions, while there is a ministerial exception under the Civil Rights' Title VII.

  • Religious organization: An organization is religious if a) its articles of incorporation state religious purpose, b) its operations are religious, c) it is non-profit, and d) it's affiliated with the church or other religious organizations. These organizations may employ people from the same religion, but still cannot discriminate against people because of race, nationality, sex, age or disability.

  • Ministerial: Clergy members usually cannot file claims that violate discrimination laws, except that of harassment claims, because of the government and church separation. The government cannot involve themselves in a case concerning the church, and vice-versa.
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Comments

Jun 5, 2010 7:02pm
kp3028
Teaching respect for others, at home, when children are young, would help immensely.
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