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What to do when an employee wants Saturdays off to worship

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Let’s say a top employee refuses to work a company’s new mandated Saturday shift. His religion won’t allow it, he says, and he wants an accommodation.

How you listen and react when first approached about a religious accommodation sets the tone for a quick resolution. If you sit down with the employee and discuss the problem, there’s a good chance you can work something out. Even if there is no alternative, the employee would at least see your effort. Usually, that’s all an employee—or the courts—will ask. Before you act, ask yourself these questions:

What are your required working hours?

Is it essential for this employee to work this shift?

Are there other qualified employees who would be willing to take the shift? What additional costs would that require?

Are there reasons other than cost compelling you to refuse to accommodate?

How have you responded to other similar requests? (Courts will also look for consistency.)

Has the employee offered a possible accommodation that could produce a compromise?

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