If your company employs 15 or more employees, watch this case! You know that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 you must provide a "reasonable" accommodation for an applicant's or employee's religious practice or observance. A reasonable accommodation (today) is one that does not cause an undue hardship, previously defined by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) as one that is more than a "de minimis" cost. That standard or threshold is much lower than for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another case is making its way to SCOTUS and presents three questions to the Court:
- whether an accommodation that merely lessens or has the potential to eliminate the conflict between work and religious practice is “reasonable”...or must an accommodation fully eliminate the conflict;
- whether speculation about possible future burdens is sufficient to meet the employer’s burden in establishing “undue hardship,”... or must the employer demonstrate an actual burden; and
- whether the “undue hardship” simply means something more than a de minimis cost.
The answer to any one of these questions could have a great impact on employers' obligations under the law. Even the Court described the case as one that presents, "questions of great importance to all employees of faith—questions at the core of how to define 'reasonable accommodation' and 'undue hardship' in Title VII.” Stay tuned.
Originally posted on Five L Company blog.
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