Religion in the Workplace

It’s no secret that today’s workforces are much more diverse than in the past. In fact, many companies are striving to establish workforces that are diverse because they see it as a way to improve the quantity and quality of new ideas and viewpoints that could help the bottom line.

But this emphasis on diversity brings with it new responsibilities as well. When you bring people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and customs together, you have to make sure than no one is discriminated against because of these differences.

One of the major differences employers need to be aware of is that of religious backgrounds. In the recent past, the number of complaints involving discrimination based on religion has spiked sharply. Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against people based on their religion.

This prohibition means that employers cannot treat people differently based on their religious background. This covers areas like hiring, promotion, benefits, training, job duties, and terminating an employee. Employers need to make reasonable accommodations to a person’s religious practices, as long as these practices don’t cause any undue difficulties for the employer. An employer cannot segregate anyone based solely on their religion.

Some of the most common allowances employers are asked to make regarding religion involve dress and grooming. When it comes to these things, it is also important for employers to keep in mind that the law covers not just established religious practices, but also religious beliefs that may be new or not well known, in other words, more non-traditional practices. The religion that the person follows does not necessarily have to be part of some formal church or sect, and may even seem a little eccentric to others.

Examples of religious clothing are things like a Muslim headscarf, a Sikh turban or a Christian cross. Grooming relates to the length of a person’s hair or certain types of beards or other shaving requirements.

An employer can deny these religious observances only if the employer genuinely feels that they will affect the safety and security of others or truly present a real hardship to the employer. They cannot prevent an employee from following their religious traditions simply because other workers find them repugnant in some way.

When your company needs temporary, temporary-to-hire or direct-hire workers in the Anchorage area, send a message to the Opti Staffing Group. We would love to discuss how we can help your company with its contingent staffing needs.

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