Handling workplace religious discrimination and harassment

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Few issues are as personal and potentially divisive as religion. Controversies generated by the “war on terror,” the abortion debate and other moral and ethical questions sometimes spill over into the workplace. But what responsibility does an employer have to accommodate employees’ religious rights and practices?

The short answer is: Quite a lot.

The right to be free from religious discrimination in the workplace is embedded in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well as state civil rights laws. This obligation to keep the workplace free from religious bias and harassment can raise a number of hot-button issues:

  • Must an employer provide an area for employees to pray?
  • Can an employer prevent employees from placing religious greetings on business e-mails or voice mails?
  • Under what circumstances can an employer prohibit employees from wearing the clothing or accessories of their faith?

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