Religious Accommodations in the Workplace: What Can They Look Like?

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the United States, workers are protected from employment discrimination variety of factors based on social identities such as race, gender, national origin, color, and religion. Here, let’s focus on what protection against discrimination based on religion can look like in the workplace.

One aspect of what constitutes protection from discrimination based on religion in the workplace is protection against employers refusing to allow religious accommodations for their employees. Under Title VII, an employer cannot refuse requests for accommodations based on religious beliefs unless those requests impose “undue hardship” on the business (I.E. more than a minimal burden on operations). You might be wondering, what can those accommodations look like? Here are some examples of different kinds of religious accommodations that you could potentially request from your employers.  

  • Exceptions to company dress policy (e.g requesting the ability to wear head coverings such as hijabs, yarmulkes, turbans, etc.; requesting the ability to dress modestly; requesting the ability to wear jewelry containing religious symbols)  
  • Exceptions to company grooming policy (e.g. requesting the ability to style/grow facial hair in certain ways, ability to grow/wear hair in certain ways) 
  • Requests for schedule changes for holidays or special religious gatherings  
  • Requests to not work on projects that run contrary to an employee’s religious beliefs  
  • Requests for break schedules that permit breaks for daily prayers 
  • Requests to not work on Sabbath days  
  • Exemption from participating in scheduled religious activities at work 

If you have other questions regarding religious inclusion in the workplace, you can make an appointment with one of our career coaches, or visit our Religiously Affiliated Affinity Community page!  

By Avery Caya
Avery Caya Graduate Assistant, CLAS/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (They/Them/Theirs)