How far must we go to accommodate employees’ unusual religious beliefs? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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How far must we go to accommodate employees’ unusual religious beliefs?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Q. We have an employee who claims to be a witch. She contends that witchcraft is her religion and has asked for certain holidays off. Are we required to accommodate this employee’s request?

A. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their “religion.” Employers are required to accommodate any bona fide religious beliefs that conflict with their policies or practices (unless the accommodation would create an “undue hardship”).

Unfortunately for employers, the EEOC has taken the position that an employee’s beliefs, although not “religious,” may be protected under Title VII if they are held “with the strength of traditional religious views.”

The EEOC reached that conclusion in a California case involving a bus driver who was fired for refusing to hand passengers coupons for free hamburgers at a local fast food restaurant.

The driver contended that eating meat conflicted with his vegetarian beliefs. The EEOC equated the bus driver’s vegetarianism to a religious belief and concluded that the employer illegally fired him.

Based on that finding, the EEOC may conclude that you have an obligation to accommodate an employee who believes in witchcraft.

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