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Religious Practices in the Workplace

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    Religious practices in the workplace are a significant issue for employers and employees. On one hand, employers need to ensure that their workers are productive and being paid for the time and work they are putting in, and must also balance those requirements with the religious practices of the workers. This sample religious paper explores the issue of religious practices in the workplace.

    Background on religious practices in the workplace

    Muslim employees at a continuous production plant have requested accommodations to engage in prayer at intervals throughout the work day. Executives at the company know that religious beliefs are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

    Research must be conducted to determine what action should be taken in response to the Muslim employees as to not violate the law or incriminate the company or its managerial staff. After research has been conducted, a plan of action will be provided for the company to apply accordingly.

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

    Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits the majority of the employers in the United States from discriminating against its employees on the basis of religion, race, color, sex, or national origin. To enforce VII, the federal government established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    The only exception to Title VII is given under terms of reasonable expectations; for example, a Catholic Church organization may only hire a priest who is Catholic. As the Islamic community grows in the United States, it is important for human resource managers to understand the responsibilities of the business under Title VII as they relate to religion and Muslims in America.

    Religious practices and freedoms are protected under Title VII. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2013) there are two basic terms of Title VII related to religion:

    1. Employers cannot refuse to hire or terminate an employee, pay them less, provide them different conditions of employment, or restrict any privileges based on religious preference.
    2. Employers cannot deprive, segregate, limit promotion, or in any way adversely affect an employees’ status because of religion.

    When a citizen that they have been restricted employment based on religion or an employee feels they have been discriminated against based on religion, then they can file a Title VII claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    In order for a Title VII claim to be valid, the person filing must provide defined information for investigation – the claim must involve a genuine religious belief, the claim must discuss the employer’s lack of accommodation to that belief and the employer’s reasoning why the business could not accommodate that belief.

    Religious practice and the employee's responsibility

    The employee is responsible for certain actions under Title VII. In order to prove discrimination, the employee must be able to show that the employer knew about the religious preference and exactly how the business was providing a hardship. The employee should discuss religious beliefs at the point in which any hardship occurs, both verbally and in writing.

    An honest discussion should occur between the employee and employer about the conflict and the employee should be prepared to show credible religious references as support. An employee is not able to file a discrimination claim based on religion if the business is oblivious of the religious belief in question.

    At the point in which the business is advised about the conflict, the responsibility shifts to the employer to accommodate that religious belief. It is okay for the employee, probably being more knowledgeable on the religious belief, to offer a solution to the conflict or remind the employer about the differences between world religions. For example, a Jewish employee working in a shift rotation may request to not work on the day of Sabbath (Sunday).

    The solution provided may be to switch that shift with another employee who wants to work Sunday and have another day off work. This would provide a reasonable accommodation suitable for the employer and employee. There are times, however, that reasonable accommodation cannot be met.

    Undue hardships and workplace religion

    In the event the accommodation cannot be reasonably met, the business should be able to prove that the accommodation would provide an undue hardship. An undue hardship is a negative impact on the company that is unreasonable. Unfortunately, Title VII does not provide much guidance on what is and what is not considered an undue hardship. The claims are processed on a case by case basis where a decision is made in regards to discrimination.

    While it can be determined that slight inconveniences, minimal expenses, and majority employee morale are not undue hardships, the exact definition has not been provided by the EEOC's civil laws. As such, issues regarding religious discrimination should probably be pushed up to the executive level where a determination can be made in collaboration with the human resources management.

    Recently, our company has received a request from our Islamic employees to allow them to pray five times a day as “required by their faith.”

    According to a translation of the Quran by Khan (2011) “people who are not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of God and the observance of prayer and the payment of the zakat fearing a Day when hearts and eyes will be convulsed.”

    The religious meaning of this directive within the Muslim sacred text is that daily prayers should not be missed for trade or commerce – business or work. Since the request is valid, our legal team has advised that it is the executive team’s responsibility to either provide reasonable accommodations or prove the accommodations would provide an undue hardship to the business.

    Developing a plan to accommodate business and various beliefs

    Given the nature of our business being a continuous motion process, it is unreasonable to stop production as it would drastically impede production and profitability. The expense of stopping the production line 5 times per day exceeds a minimal expense listed as a reasonable accommodation by Title VII. Stopping production is a major expense. Therefore, the company’s response to the request will be approached as follows:

    1. We submit a directive to the plant operations manager to consult with the line staff schedules in order to determine if the Muslim employees can be granted their breaks at the time of prayer.
    2. If scheduling breaks to accommodate prayer is possible, we will set up a meeting with all parties involved, including the Muslim staff, to offer a new worker schedule as a reasonable accommodation.
    3. If scheduling breaks at the time of prayer is not an option by business or employee decision, then we are in a position to argue that providing each Muslim prayer time during work hours is an undue hardship for the business. The undue hardship is supported by the nature of the business being continuous production.

    Ensuring fairness to both the company and the employee is required to meet government regulations. Analyzing religious practices, company's ability to accommodate said practices, requirements to practice religion freely, standardized work schedules, and other employees' beliefs are crucial to devise a plan of action. 

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, the Muslim employees on the continuous assembly line have requested the accommodation of prayer during specific intervals during the work shift. In order to address the group responsibly, a thorough review of Title VII has been conducted. After the regulatory information was processed, the executive team determined the inherent business risk and then developed an acceptable response that mitigated that risk.

    References

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (n.d.). EEOC Home Page. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm

    Khan, M. (2011) Quran. Long Island City: Thomson Press.

     
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    Ultius, Inc. "Religious Practices in the Workplace." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 07 Aug. 2014. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/religious-practices-in-the-workplace.html

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    Ultius, Inc. (2014, August 07). Religious Practices in the Workplace. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/religious-practices-in-the-workplace.html

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    Ultius, Inc. "Religious Practices in the Workplace." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. August 07, 2014. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/religious-practices-in-the-workplace.html.

    Copied to clipboard

    Ultius, Inc. "Religious Practices in the Workplace." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. August 07, 2014. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/religious-practices-in-the-workplace.html.

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