Are prayer breaks an ‘undue hardship’ for employers? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Are prayer breaks an ‘undue hardship’ for employers?

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Conflicts over religious accommodation in the workplace have spilled over into the courtroom, as more and more employees try to force employers to bend work schedules to fit their religious practices.

It’s no longer just a question of whether employees are entitled to a day off on the Sabbath. In an increasingly diverse workplace, Islamic practices are spurring more litigation.

That could mean allowing short prayer breaks during the day, as long as that doesn’t put an “undue hardship” on your workplace.

Recent case: A group of Muslim employees at electronics manufacturer Celestica sued because they were denied regular prayer breaks. Islam requires adherents to pray five times per day. The employees asked the court to handle their case as a class action.

The court rejected their bid after hearing that many of the employees had differing views of exactly what was required of them.

For example, some of them believed that their religion required that they begin their prayers at an exact time, while others believed that they had some flexibility within a short 10- to 15-minute window. Still others believed that they had several hours of flexibility.

The court said they would have to litigate their cases individually. (Haliye, et al., v. Celestica, No. 06-CV-4769, DC MN, 2009)

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