Total Articles: 18
Ogletree Deakins • December 19, 2017
So it begins—the annual holiday marathon. But which holidays come to mind? Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus? The answer may differ depending on a host of factors, such as an individual’s family traditions, cultural upbringing, or religious beliefs. As we prepare holiday to-do and shopping lists, employers may want to keep in mind their legal obligations for recognizing, addressing, and accommodating employees’ religious needs. Below is a list of five considerations to keep top of mind this season and year-round to stay off the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) naughty list and limit your company’s exposure to unwanted gifts in the form of religious discrimination complaints.
Nexsen Pruet • August 02, 2017
Increasingly, employers are turning to biometric scanners – usually a fingerprint or hand scanner – to track employees’ working time. This method for clocking in and out is generally more efficient and accurate than traditional methods, such as using a punch clock.
Muslims around the world are celebrating the month-long religious holiday of Ramadan from June 5 to July 5. As part of their observance, many Muslims are required to fast and refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Many will also partake in daily prayers (up to five times a day, including before dawn and at sunset) and special evening prayers.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • May 10, 2016
A Boston hospital reasonably accommodated an employee’s religious objections to its influenza vaccination program by offering alternatives, but exempting the employee from the vaccination requirement would impose an undue hardship on the hospital because of the risk of infection to patients, a federal court in Massachusetts has concluded, granting the hospital’s motion for summary judgment in an employee’s religious discrimination suit. Leontine K. Robinson v. Children’s Hospital Boston, C.A. No. 14-10263-DJC (D. Mass. Apr. 5, 2016).
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • April 26, 2016
On April 12, 2016, a district court in Nebraska rejected the religious accommodation claims advanced by a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.1 In denying the religious accommodation claims, the court was forced to walk a narrow line between precedents that bar courts from questioning the centrality of a belief to an individual’s faith, and cases that allow courts to assess the religious nature of a plaintiff’s beliefs. Because the plaintiff is an inmate and not an employee, this case does not involve reasonable accommodations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). But the court’s evaluation of what makes a belief system a “religion” offers insight into how other courts may address this complex and sensitive issue. The decision also provides interesting reading.
Fisher Phillips • April 19, 2016
Employers are generally aware of their duty to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs. Whether that means rearranging work schedules, permitting modifications to dress codes, permitting prayer breaks, or any number of other alterations, you know that the law requires you to be flexible when it comes to religion. But what if your employee claims he is a “Pastafarian” who worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster? A recent case from Nebraska might shed some light on your religious accommodation obligations.
Ogletree Deakins • February 25, 2016
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees based on their religion, and requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation of employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs. State laws provide employees and applicants with similar protections of their religious beliefs.
Goldberg Segalla LLP • September 21, 2015
Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis was recently jailed due to her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. In other news, a flight attendant refused to serve alcohol due to her religious beliefs. The public reaction to both situations was intense and the debate well-publicized. These events also highlight a new wave of confusion regarding the requirements facing employers with respect to religious accommodations. The answer for employers can differ widely depending upon the industry, jurisdiction, legislation and the specific interpretation of the laws at issue. Some states have enacted so-called religious freedom statutes and thus religious objectors have significant protections. Read on for tips to employers.
Ogletree Deakins • December 11, 2014
Picture this scenario. You are a busy manager of a retail organization. You assume that a sales employee is deeply religious because she wears religious symbols around her neck, talks about her pastor and church services frequently with coworkers, and says “Have a blessed day” to customers after she completes their purchases. She is a very good worker and well-liked by her colleagues. Although the employee has never asked for any scheduling preferences, when preparing the shift schedule for the holidays and on weekends, you avoid scheduling her for Sunday shifts or the day before (or after) religious holidays. Often, the days the employee is scheduled to be off from work are high-traffic days with many customers in the store. All sales employees work on commissions.
Franczek Radelet P.C • June 04, 2014
If there is a secret to avoiding or, if necessary, winning lawsuits involving employee requests for religious accommodations, it is this: be reasonable. Two recent federal appeals court rulings highlight this seemingly obvious but sometimes elusive point.
Fisher Phillips • February 05, 2014
Religious accommodation claims are on the EEOC’s radar screen. This means that offering religious accommodations to employees and applicants must be on your radar screen as well.
Goldberg Segalla LLP • January 31, 2013
Many health care providers mandate certain types of shots or inoculations for their employees to reduce the risk of the spread of serious illnesses such as the flu. Hospitals and long-term care providers have increasingly taken a hard line when employees have refused to get vaccinated because some of their licensing standards require certain vaccinations. For other health care providers, it is viewed as a best practice to reduce the spread of illness and disease among the infirm and elderly. However, as some recent cases illustrate, employers need to exercise caution in taking an adverse employment action when an employee refuses to get vaccinated. For example, if an employee cannot have a flu shot or other inoculation due to a disability, this will likely preclude an employer from taking an adverse employment action against the employee.
Franczek Radelet P.C • November 10, 2011
In Weathers v. FedEx Corporate Services, a federal district court ruled that a former FedEx manager could proceed to trial on his claim that FedEx failed to accommodate his religious beliefs by prohibiting him from answering questions about his religion in the workplace.
Ogletree Deakins • April 01, 2008
A federal appellate court recently affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of an employee who claimed that his employer discriminated against him because of his religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the employer satisfied its obligation to reasonably accommodate the worker's religious beliefs.
Fisher Phillips • March 05, 2008
A recent case from the Eleventh Circuit reminds us that navigating the minefield of religious accommodation issues can be difficult but manageable. Cynthia Morrissette-Brown is a Seventh-Day Adventist who claimed that her employer did not reasonably accommodate her "deep religious convictions" which prevented her from working Friday or Saturday shifts. The employer ultimately prevailed by showing that it had a neutral rotating shift system and that it provided Ms. Morrissette-Brown the opportunity to swap shifts with her co-workers. Morrissette-Brown v. Mobile Infirmary Medical Center.
Nexsen Pruet • November 29, 2007
The end of the year and the accompanying holidays often bring requests by employees for time off for the religious observances and requests to display religious symbols at work.
Fisher Phillips • November 05, 2007
In recent years, much attention to religious discrimination in the workplace has centered around Islamic religious practices. Not surprisingly, the EEOC reported seeing a spike in discrimination claims by Muslims after 9/11. In June, a federal jury in Arizona awarded a Muslim woman $288,000 after she was fired four months after the 9/11 attacks for wearing a head scarf during Ramadan.
Fisher Phillips • August 09, 2007
For the most part, you've been delighted with the work of your hostess. She charms the customers at the door, handles problems with the wait staff smoothly and professionally, and best of all she's dependable as clockwork. Till now. She's found a new religion, you're not sure which one, but claims she can no longer work from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, making her unavailable for one of your busiest periods. Can you insist that she work that time period? Can you discipline her if she refuses? What about the fact that when she hired in, she said she would be available for work seven days a week, if necessary?