Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Religious Accommodation in the ...
Religious Accommodation in the Workplace

Religious Accommodation in the Workplace

If you're a Muslim in a Christian workplace, how can you satisfy your religious obligation of daily prayers?

If you're a Jew invited to the company's "pig and pork roast" picnic, should you not attend or go and not eat?

Federal law mandates that employers accommodate employee religious practices at a de minimus level -- at the least cost to the employer. "The employer's only duty is to provide a reasonable accommodation without undue hardship," says Charles Craver, professor of employment law at George Washington University in Washington, DC. "Courts are very nervous about government establishing or favoring religion."

Employers are skittish, too. Employees who seek religious accommodations at work should be aware that "most companies panic about religion," says Cynthia Graves Wigglesworth, president of Conscious Pursuits, a Bellaire, Texas-based consultant on work and spirituality. "They're so scared of appearing to endorse religion, they don't even talk about it."

So if you require accommodation for your religious beliefs, you must be proactive. Follow these tips to get what you need.

Ask for Accommodation

"Don't be combative," Wigglesworth says. "Don't threaten a lawsuit. Reassure people you're not trying to convert them. You want them to be sensitive to you, so you must be sensitive to them."

"If you go to your supervisor or HR department, they'll usually ask what you're seeking," Craver says. "You should know ahead of time what you need. A reasonable proposal is one that does not cost anything and does not cause undue hardship."

"Assure them you will get your work done," Wigglesworth advises. Offering to do something for your workgroup beyond what's required is one way to demonstrate you have the company's best interests at heart. For example, a Muslim seeking prayer time during work hours or a Jew needing time off for holy days could offer to work later or on Christian holidays.

It's less effective to simply ask for days off. "You can ask someone to trade, but [if] your employer has to pay overtime, it's an undue hardship, and he doesn't have to do it," Craver says.

Be Flexible

Show your employer you have taken a thoughtful approach to your situation. For example, a Muslim prayer room should be a separate, sacred place where shoes are not worn. Worshipers can make a supply room special by putting a sign on the door during prayers and by providing a prayer rug that becomes the required clean place to pray.

Kosher and halal food rules are strict, so bringing appropriate foods to a company outing is one solution. Another reasonable compromise would be to ask for or offer to supply vegetarian fare, Wigglesworth says.

Education Is Up to You

Educating supervisors or HR personnel about religious requests is sometimes necessary. For example, many people "have a vague or stereotypical understanding of Sikhs," says David Miller, executive director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. "Even a Reform Jew might not understand some of the laws of Orthodox Judaism."

Teaching is best done in a reasonable, friendly way. "If you explain your request patiently, you might be surprised at the relief your employer shows at not being put under the gun," Miller advises. "Err on the side of assuming the other person may desire to help but feels inadequate knowing how."

It also helps to show a balanced perspective. "Being able to separate what is nonnegotiable from that which is not necessary goes a long way toward allaying concerns," Miller says.

Don't Compromise Your Beliefs

But sometimes, an accommodation in compliance with the legal requirement may not meet an employee's needs. In that case, says Judy Neal, founder and executive director of the International Center for Spirit at Work, "be very courageous, and take a clear stand. It's important to live in alignment with your deepest faith. I put faith ahead of career. If your company is not willing to accommodate you, you need to think about maybe not working there."

Neal advises job seekers to raise religious-accommodation issues at the interview stage. "The time to talk about it is before you get hired," she says. "If you don't like what you hear, you may want to go somewhere else."

Additional Resources

Latest Jobs

Hilton Worldwide
Posted: 07/24/2014
Orlando, FL, 32801
Hilton Worldwide
Posted: 07/24/2014
Arlington, VA, 22201
Hilton Worldwide
Posted: 07/24/2014
Detroit, MI, 48201
Hilton Worldwide
Posted: 07/24/2014
Miami, FL, 33010
IBM Corporation
Posted: 07/24/2014
San Jose, CA

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.30.40-323
eTrustLogo