EEOC Offers New Religious Dress and Grooming Guidance

, Corporate Counsel

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"Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities" clarifies how employers should respond to requests for accommodation and avoid religious discrimination.

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    In some positions there may be a ‘conflict of interest‘ with certain ‘held religious beliefs‘ and the inherent responsibilities of a job. This includes law enforcement and other sensitive positions. I agree there must be some accommodations for some ‘religious‘ garb however we must also look at the percentage and type of complaints. If we pass legislation and/or guidelines that are ‘skewed‘ for one religious group or another are we not ‘stepping‘ on the ‘right‘ to a non-hostile, equal work-place environment? In this case the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
    I am reminded of a certain ‘female‘ who lobbied and fought to obtain entrance to the Citadel under a ‘discrimination‘ complaint. She could not handle the physical fitness requirements. Perhaps there are some positions and fields that should be considered ‘inappropriate‘ for certain religious garb requirements.
    If I were in a hospital I would not want a nurse who covered her face and wore a veil. It is a ‘health/germ‘ concern and the need for the comfort of the patient outweighs the desire for religious garb in my opinion.
    There must be some point at which this country stops bending over backwards to accommodate every whim and desire of every person, religion, sexual orientation or other personal life observation to ‘not offend‘ a minority.
    In a business situation the environment is know BEFORE anyone enters the place to obtain employment. If it is not acceptable consider the possibility of the applicant finding another position instead of changing the organization for a few individuals to ‘feel‘ comfortable.
    In Muslim Countries our medial personnel working under contract comply with the local requirements for garb outside the US complex. They are not asking for special consideration and are afforded little. They knew where they were going and what was expected prior to going or moving there...At some point enough is enough and the frivolity of encumbering the system with excessive suits and petitions is unsustainable.

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    How does the EEOC propose that employers go about discerning between sincerely held religious beliefs and insincerely held religious beliefs adopted conveniently for the purpose of filing nuisance lawsuits? In any case, the fear of such lawsuits will have the unintended consequence of effectively reducing the hiring of religiously garbed/ungroomed applicants in the first place.

  • not available

    Here in England young Muslim women wording for large retail chains are commonly provided with a head-scarf with the company logo on it - as on their male colleagues‘ shirts and jackets and indeed their female colleagues‘ blouses. Works fine.

    On the other hand if you are in a public-facing role it‘s show your face, with the scarf tied under your chin if you like, or either accept any none public-facing work for which you are qualified and which is available, or quit - and no challenge to that has ever succeeded.

    A woman can also be called on to show her face to an airline check-in clerk or an immigration officer. The Border Agency will, if possible, get a woman to do the work if required; but when I arrived late at night at a small airport and the only office on duty was male any woman whose face was covered would have had to uncover it.

    There are limits to all things including accommodations and adjustments.

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