Workplace Accommodations for Religion

Workplace Accommodations – Not Just for Disability

It’s flu season, and when flu season strikes, the questions begin to be asked about mandatory flu shots in the workplace.  To answer the question, yes, flu shots can be made mandatory in the workplace; however, employers must make exceptions where accommodation (disability or religious) is legally necessary.  I smell a segue!

Even if you’re a non-lawyer or are not disabled yourself, you know or at least have heard of individuals receiving workplace accommodations for disabilities. However, religious accommodations are also mandated under law and are often forgotten about in our day-to-day lives.  Additionally forgotten about is the liability employers face for failing to properly accommodate employees’ religious needs.

An initial showing of religious discrimination in a religious failure to accommodate case requires that a plaintiff establish:

  1. That the individual holds a sincere religious belief that conflicts with a workplace requirement
  2. That the individual has informed the employer of the conflict between the religious belief and the workplace requirement
  3. That the individual was discharged for non-compliance with the workplace requirement

Just like in a failure to accommodate a disability case, once the individual meets this initial showing, the employer has the opportunity to prove that accommodating the individual’s religion would cause an undue hardship on the employer.

In our next couple of posts, we’ll provide tips and best practices for employees in need of religious accommodations and employers receiving religious accommodation requests.