U.S. Employers' Legal Responsibilities for Preventing Religious Discrimination.

Purpose The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the United States reports a rapid increase in complaints involving religious discrimination in the workplace. Yet, because of vagaries in the legislation that governs employer responsibilities, well-intended employers are often unclear about appropriate action to take to prevent or respond correctly to religious discrimination charges by employees. This article is intended to provide employers with the guidelines they need to both respect employees’ religious beliefs and avoiding legal liability. Approach This paper examines an employer’s duty under the laws of the United States that are intended to assure a balance between the rules and practices needed to promote the objectives of the business and the religious interests of workers. In particular, we focus on decisions the courts have reached on cases charging religious discrimination in the workplace, with special attention on the U.S. Supreme Court’s role in establishing the parameters of employer action. We also consider a proposed legislative measure that is intended to more clearly define workers’ rights. Practical Implications From our study of case law, we conclude by presenting general principles that employers in the United States should consider in their efforts to abide by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We provide a list of circumstances that can give rise to a conflict involving religious discrimination and the need for accommodation, plus actions that employers can take to improve their awareness of their employees’ religious needs. Originality The research that produced this article was conducted from a U.S. employer’s perspective. It was prepared to help employers understand their responsibilities and to put guidelines and procedures in place to preempt the possibility that religious discrimination in the work place. This case-based proactive approach to preventing religious discrimination is the contribution of this article to managerial practice.

Main Author: Pearce II, John A.
Other Authors: Kuhn, Dennis R., DiLullo, Samuel A.
Format: Villanova Faculty Authorship
Language: English
Published: 2005
Online Access: http://ezproxy.villanova.edu/login?url=https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:178398