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NJLAD now requires greater accommodation of religious beliefs

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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) recently was expanded to require employers to reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

Under the new rules, employers must make a “bona fide effort” to accommodate religious practices unless they can show that doing so will pose an “undue hardship” on their businesses. This is a stricter standard than the one federal law imposes—that employers show more than a de minimis or small burden.

The new NJLAD rules mean employers must seriously consider employee requests for schedule accommodations to observe the Sabbath and other religious observances and to attend worship services. To deny such requests, employers will have to show a “significant unreasonable expense or difficulty, unreasonable interference with the safe or efficient operation of the workplace” or violations of seniority or collective bargaining agreements.

Note: The law does not specify how employers should determine what constitutes a sincere religious belief, but it goes into detail regarding pay and benefits. For specific advice, consult your attorney.

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