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Is your employer required to accommodate your prayer schedule?

Georgia news reports that an Atlanta-area school fired a Muslim employee for requesting time to pray. According to reports, the school district stated that she falsified her job application, then was terminated when she requested that the school accommodate her prayer schedule. The complaint remains under investigation.

This lawsuit raises the issue of what is an employer's responsibility to accommodate a worker's religious beliefs and what constitutes discrimination. Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not discriminate against a worker based on their religion. This means that your employer cannot take negative employment actions against you because of your religion, harass you based on your beliefs, or retaliate against you for complaining about religious discrimination. Three separate components exist under religious discrimination laws.

First, your employer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate your religious beliefs and practices in the workplace. This means if your religion calls for wearing certain clothing or praying at certain time, your employer must take steps to "reasonably" accommodate you. In some cases, your employer may argue that is it prohibitively expensive for it to do so, or that a practice interfere with the business operations as a defense against the accommodation. However, where the accommodation is “reasonable” then your employer must make an effort to honor your request. 

Additionally, your employer may not impose its religious views on you or permit your co-employees to impose their religious views on you. This means your employer cannot require you to follow the same religion as others or attend prayer services of their choosing. Further, your employer can't fire you or take other negative action against you based on your religion.

For more information or if you or a loved one has faced religious discrimination, please contact our Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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