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Federal employers must accommodate religion

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2020 | employee rights |

Religion is a very important social and cultural force for many who live in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Constitution affirms the freedom to practice religion, and federal law backs it up. That means, when you ask for reasonable religious accommodations so that you can worship in the traditions of your chosen religion, your employer must abide the request. Intentional interference with religious practice and worship violates federal employment law.

Title VII regulates federal jobs

The Title VII law requires federal agencies to make reasonable accommodations when employees request religious accommodations. The law says federal agencies must accommodate employees’ reasonable requests when “sincerely held” religious beliefs, observances or practices are in conflict with their work environments. That means an employer cannot knowingly force someone to violate their religious practices.

Limits on extent of accommodations

While the Title VII law says job providers need to reasonably accommodate religion, it is not an absolute regulation. The request must be reasonable and not violate labor contracts, workplace safety or efficiency. That means a less-senior employee cannot use religious accommodation as a reason to take a plumb work shift from employees with greater seniority or to make other workers do a greater share of the work.

The term “sincerely held belief” is very important. It means workers cannot simply claim a religious affiliation to avoid working certain days or hours. For example, a worker who falsely claims to be a Seventh Day Adventist cannot demand Saturdays off just because that religion does it religious observance on Saturdays instead of Sundays.

The Title VII law only refers to federal agencies and related jobs. It does not apply to state workers, those in private employment or other jobs that are not federal jobs. An experienced employment law attorney can help you to better understand religious accommodation and potential workplace violations.