New Jersey Failure To Accommodate Religion Lawyer
It is well established in state and federal law that employers cannot discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of religion. For instance, you cannot fire or refuse to hire someone because you disagree with their religious beliefs. But employers must go beyond simply refraining from engaging in discriminatory acts–they must also make reasonable accommodations for their employees’ religious beliefs.
Many religious faiths require their adherents to adhere to standards of dress, grooming, prayer, or other conduct that may conflict with certain policies an employer wishes to maintain. When such conflicts arise, an employee may request an accommodation for their beliefs. While many employers do engage in a good-faith effort to reach a mutually acceptable accommodation, others do not. Some employers go a step further and use a request for religious accommodation as an excuse to discipline or fire an employee. This is itself a form of illegal religious discrimination. If you are in such a position, our experienced New Jersey religious discrimination lawyers can represent you in pursuing a claim against your employer and vindicating your right to maintain your faith while at work.
Protecting Employees’ Sincerely Held Beliefs in the Workplace
To be clear, the law does not require an employee to grant any accommodation that an employee requests based on their stated religious beliefs. Rather, both the federal Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) state an employer is required to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. While the definition of “reasonable” will vary based on a number of factors, the employer is not required to provide an accommodation that would be too expensive or difficult to provide or significantly interfere with the safe or efficient operation of the workplace.
Some common examples of religious accommodations that are generally considered reasonable include:
- requesting time off during the work day to engage in prayer or attend a religious service;
- requesting days off for religious holidays or required days of rest;
- adjusting or waiving certain dress code and grooming requirements, such as asking to wear a yarmulke or headscarf, or maintaining a beard;
- permitting an employee to opt-out of any company training or function that includes practices or beliefs that conflict with those of the employee;
- allowing employees to express their religious beliefs at work.
Once again, employers may have valid grounds to refuse a requested religious accommodation. But an employer cannot engage in a blanket refusal to accommodate religion simply based on cost considerations. At a minimum, the employer must still engage in an interactive, good faith process to try and reach an accommodation that will satisfy the employee’s beliefs to the extent practicable.
Religious Discrimination Lawyers Serving Ocean, Monmouth & Middlesex County
People cannot simply leave their religious beliefs outside when they go into work each day. The law recognizes this reality and requires employers to make a good faith effort to protect their employees’ ability to maintain their beliefs while on the clock. If your employer is not living up to this mandate and you need to speak with a skilled New Jersey religion discrimination lawyers, contact Poulos LoPiccolo PC today to schedule an initial consultation.