Here are some classic compliance situations that every manager should know how to handle:
1. A job candidate, Jane, comes to the interview wearing a crucifix; her resume details years of volunteer work with a local church. Can you ask her if she’s available to work on Sundays?
2. Another job candidate, Andre, speaks English with a distinct accent. Can you ask him if he’s a U.S. citizen?
3. You hire Andre, whose primary language is not English. Can you require him to speak English at work?
4. You hire Jane. But her religious beliefs lead to complaints from other employees that she’s preaching to them at work. Can you ask her to stop?
1. You can ask Jane if she’s available to work whatever schedule the job requires—and you need to ask every other candidate this as well. Not just Jane. You cannot ask her specifically about Sundays just because she’s a devout Christian.
2. No you cannot. You can, and in fact must, ask Andre (and every worker) if he can legally work in the United States, but that’s different from being a citizen.
3. You can require Andre to speak English in certain situations where clear communication is critical (such as where safety is concerned). With rare exceptions, a blanket English-only policy that’s not justified by business necessity will likely be deemed illegal.
4. Sure, if Jane’s being disruptive and interfering with work. And if the other workers have asked Jane to stop and she’s refused, then you should intervene, because Jane’s behavior could constitute harassment. But if the other workers are offended not by Jane’s behavior, but by her beliefs, then you need to ask them to be more tolerant, since Jane has a right to express those beliefs in the workplace.