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Group prayer causes complaint: Let ’em pray or break it up?

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PROBLEM: A small group of your employees gathers in an open area during their lunch break to have a group prayer.

Another employee of a different religion complains to you and asks you to stop them because it makes her feel uncomfortable. You know that the law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business.

What would you do in this situation?

ANSWER: Employees of private employers are permitted to pray during their lunch periods or other break times in the workplace.

An employer can require employees to pray in a location that does not interfere with other employees and with company operations.

Remember, employers have obli­­gations to accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.

Answer provided by Susan K. Lessack, Esq., Pepper Hamilton LLP, Philadelphia


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