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Religion in the Workplace – Training for Supervisors Reviewed April 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Religion in the Workplace – Training for Supervisors Reviewed April 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion in the Workplace – Training for Supervisors Reviewed April 2013

2 ©SHRM Introduction As workplaces continue to become more diverse, religion is becoming a significant workplace issue. Employees of diverse backgrounds may request accommodation to practice daily religious activities or to follow their religious beliefs. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for requests that are based on employees' sincerely held religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on their business operations. In addition employers must ensure that employees are not discriminated against or harassed on the basis of religion. This sample presentation is intended for presentation to supervisors and other individuals who manage other employees. It is designed to be presented by an individual who has knowledge of the law and best practices regarding religious issues in the workplace. This is a sample presentation that must be customized to include and match the employer’s own policies and practices.

3 ©SHRM Objectives At the close of this session, you will be able to: Understand the types of religious issues that may appear in the workplace State why it is important to prevent religious discrimination and provide accommodations when possible Describe the company policy and procedures on religious discrimination and religious accommodations Describe types of religious accommodations that we may provide Understand your responsibilities as supervisors to respond to complaints of religious discrimination and requests for accommodation

4 ©SHRM Religious Issues That May Arise in the Workplace Complaints of discrimination based on an employee’s expressions of faith or on religious beliefs or practices Example – Amani Mahin, who works in the accounting department, files a formal complaint that several co-workers are making fun of the burka she wears and are making derogatory remarks about her religion (Islam). Example – John Marks, who works in the sales department, complains about another employee who has a “shrine” in her cubicle which is next to his.

5 ©SHRM Requests for time off as an accommodation– Employee may ask for partial days or full days off to attend religious services or comply with their religious beliefs. These may be occasional absences or an ongoing change in their work schedule > Example – Mary Brooks, who works in the meetings department, asks permission to be absent for Ramadan, an Islamic holiday. > Example – John Connor, who works in the maintenance department, asks to have his schedule changed from working on Saturdays to working on Sundays as his religion (Judaism) observes Saturdays as the Sabbath Religious Issues That May Arise in the Workplace (cont’d)

6 ©SHRM Religious Issues That May Arise in the Workplace (cont’d) Request to use employer’s property for religious practices or activities as an accommodation > Example – Bobby Jones, who works in the call center, asks if he can organize a prayer group with co-workers and conduct meetings in a conference room during part of their lunch times. > Example – Amanda Smith, who works in the sales department, wants to add “Have a blessed day” to her phone greeting.

7 ©SHRM Questions?Comments?

8 ©SHRM Why Prevent Religious Discrimination & Why Accommodate? The concepts of freedom of speech and freedom of religion are concepts that Americans hold dear and that are protected under the Constitution and federal and state laws.

9 ©SHRM Why Prevent Religious Discrimination &Why Accommodate? (cont’d) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to: Provide a workplace free from religious discrimination (including harassment) Provide a reasonable accommodation for employee’s seriously held religious beliefs unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the company. (What constitutes reasonable accommodation and undue hardship depends on each situation’s facts.)

10 ©SHRM Why Prevent Religious Discrimination & Why Accommodate? (cont’d) Discrimination – based on religion, just as when based on gender, age, disability, ethnic origin – has the potential to harm us all. The most important part of our corporate values is that all employees are treated with respect and dignity. Engaging in, condoning, not reporting religious discrimination is in direct conflict with our values.

11 ©SHRM Questions?Comments?

12 ©SHRM (Name of company) Policy and Procedures on Religious Discrimination and Accommodations (Note to presenter: Provide copies of your policy and procedures to all attendees and review all or most important components. You may also want to add most important part of these to this presentation. Included in this sample is a typical procedure for considering providing a religious accommodation.)

13 ©SHRM (Name of company) Procedure for Religious Accommodations Follow these steps when you (a supervisor) become aware of an employee’s need for or receive an employee’s request for a religious accommodation: Immediately inform the HR Director Meet privately as soon as possible with the employee to determine what the issue is

14 ©SHRM (Name of company) Procedure for Religious Accommodations (cont’d) Ask the employee to complete and submit to you the employee’s portion of company’s “Request for Religious Accommodation” form available from the HR Department. Ask the employee to submit along with the Request for Accommodation form, documentation of his/her religious belief or practice as it relates to the accommodation request. Documentation would come from the leader or other staff at the employee’s religious institution. (pastor, priest, minister, Rabbi, etc.)

15 ©SHRM (Name of company) Procedure for Religious Accommodations (cont’d) Review and discuss the request with the HR Director and decide on what, if any, reasonable accommodation may be made that does not create an undue hardship on the business. Complete the employer’s portion of the “Request for Religious Accommodation” form. Meet with the employee regarding the request and discuss the decision. Make any additional notes on the accommodation form and submit it to the HR Director.

16 ©SHRM Questions?Comments?

17 ©SHRM Types of Religious Accommodations that We May Provide Changes in Work Schedule – Using the examples of a religious issue from the beginning of this presentation: Example - Mary Brooks, who works in the meetings department, asks permission to be absent for Ramadan, an Islamic holiday. If all procedures are followed and Mary submits documentation for this request and if we have adequate staffing available that day, we would decide that this would be a reasonable accommodation that would not create an undue hardship on the business. We would approve this request. Example - John Connor, who works in the maintenance department, asks to have his schedule changed from working on Saturdays to working on Sundays as his religion (Judaism) observes Saturday as the Sabbath. Even if all procedures were followed and John submits documentation for this request, because John was hired specifically to work on weekends and no other staff is available to perform his duties, we would decide that this is not a reasonable accommodation that would not create an undue hardship on us. We would deny this request.

18 ©SHRM Exceptions to dress code and appearance policy: Example – Amani Mahin, who works in the accounting department, asks permission to wear a burka to work. If Amani and her manager follow all procedures for this request and Amani submits documentation from her religious leader, we would determine that this is a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship. We would approve this request. Example – Tanvi Gandi, who works as a cook in the cafeteria, asks permission to wear a sari to work. Even if Tanvi and her manager follow all procedures for this request and Tanvi submits documentation from her religious leader, we would determine that the wearing of a sari while cooking presents a safety hazard to Tanvi, her co-workers and the business. We would decide that that this is not a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship. We would deny this request. Types of Religious Accommodations that We May Provide (cont’d)

19 ©SHRM Use of Company Property - Using the examples of a religious issue from the beginning of this presentation: Example – Bobby Jones, who works in the call center, asks if he can organize a prayer group with co-workers and conduct meetings in a conference room during part of their lunch times. Even if Bobby and his manager follow all procedures for this request and Bobby submits documentation from his religious leader, we would consider that allowing this could be perceived as an endorsement of one type of religion and may lead to other employees asking for meeting rooms to conduct their own prayer group meetings. We also consider that our conference rooms as well as other facilities are for business purposes only. We would determine that this is not a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship. We would not approve this request. Types of Religious Accommodations that We May Provide (cont’d)

20 ©SHRM Use of Company Property (cont’d) - Using the examples of a religious issue from the beginning of this presentation: Example – Amanda Smith, who works in the sales department, wants to add “Have a Blessed Day” to her phone greeting. Even if Amanda and her manager follow all procedures for this request and Amanda submits documentation from her religious leader, we would consider that allowing this could be perceived as an endorsement of one type of religion and may lead to other employees asking to add similar religious sounding phrases on their phone greetings. We also consider that our phone system and greetings are for business purposes only and not to convey personal wishes, however nice. We would determine that this is not a reasonable accommodation that does not create an undue hardship. We would not approve this request. Types of Religious Accommodations that We May Provide (cont’d)

21 ©SHRM Questions?Comments?

22 ©SHRM Know and comply with our policy and procedures Immediately report any complaint that you receive from your employees or incidents that you witness involving other supervisors’ employees to the HR Director Responsibilities of Supervisors

23 ©SHRM Do not object if an employee prefers to or actually does bypass the standard chain of command Respond to any employee’s complaint as soon as possible Do not engage in retaliation against an employee who complains of religious discrimination or harassment Responsibilities of Supervisors (cont’d)

24 ©SHRM Investigations are conducted by the HR Director or by the company’s legal counsel Be available for interviews and provide as much information as possible Make employees available for interviews Responsibilities of Supervisors (cont’d)

25 ©SHRM Once an investigation has been completed, if disciplinary action is to be taken, work with the HR Director to make sure that: The victim is not adversely affected The religious discrimination stops and does not recur In handling requests for religious accommodations from your employees, inform the HR Director immediately of any request and follow the company’s procedures Responsibilities of Supervisors (cont’d)

26 ©SHRM Questions?Comments?

27 ©SHRM Summary There are several types of religious issues that appear in the workplace  Complaints of discrimination (including harassment)  Requests for religious accommodations and to use the employer’s property for religious practices or activities

28 ©SHRM Summary (cont’d) It is important to prevent religious discrimination and provide accommodations when possible because the concept and right of freedom of religion are highly valued by Americans and are protected under the Constitution and federal and state laws

29 ©SHRM Summary (cont’d) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to:  Provide a workplace free from religious discrimination (including harassment)  Provide a reasonable accommodation for employee’s seriously held religious beliefs unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the company. (What constitutes reasonable accommodation and undue hardship depends on each situation’s facts.)

30 ©SHRM Summary (cont’d) (Name of company) has a comprehensive policy for employees and supervisors that complies with federal and state laws and prohibits religious discrimination and provides for religious accommodations when possible

31 ©SHRM Summary (cont’d) Types of religious accommodation the company may provide include: Changes in work schedules Exceptions to dress code and appearance policy Use of company property

32 ©SHRM Summary (cont’d) Responsibilities of Supervisors regarding religious discrimination and accommodations are to: Know and comply with our policy and procedures Immediately report any complaints or incidents to the HR Directors Do not object if an employee prefers or actually does bypass the standard chain of command Respond to any employee’s complaint as soon as possible

33 ©SHRM Summary (cont’d) Responsibilities of Supervisors regarding religious discrimination/harassment and accommodations are to: Not engage in retaliation against an employee who complains of religious discrimination/harassment or asks for an accommodation Assist with investigations Handle requests for religious accommodations strictly in accordance with the company’s policy and procedures.

34 ©SHRM Questions?Comments?

35 ©SHRM Course Evaluation Please be sure to complete and leave the evaluation sheet you received with your handouts. Thank you for your attention and interest!


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