Religious Accommodations: Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs

Employers typically should assume that a request for religious accommodation is based on a sincerely held religious belief. However, if the employer has a valid and objective reason to request more information from an employee or to doubt the validity of a request, they may ask additional questions, tailored for the individual assessment being conducted.

The EEOC identified the following factors that might undermine the credibility of an employee's claim:

  • The employee has acted inconsistently with the professed belief. However, the EEOC said, "employees need not be scrupulous in their observance."
  • The employee is seeking a "particularly desirable" accommodation that is likely to be sought for nonreligious reasons.
  • The timing of the request is suspicious. For example, the employee may have recently requested the same benefit for secular reasons and been denied.
  • The employer otherwise has reason to believe the accommodation is not sought for religious reasons.

According to the EEOC, when an employer requests additional information, employees should provide information that addresses the employer’s reasonable doubts.  That information need not, however, take any specific form. An employee who fails to cooperate with an employer’s reasonable request for verification of the sincerity or religious nature of a professed belief risks losing any subsequent claim that the employer improperly denied an accommodation. EEOC Guidance, Section 12: Religious Discrimination.

If you have questions about assessing an employee’s request for religious accommodations, please contact HR Partners at 785-233-7860.

What our clients say...

Community Action, Inc.

Tawny Stottlemire
Executive Director
Community Action, Inc.
 
“Because our statewide network had used HR Partners for several special training events, I knew exactly who to connect with when it was time to conduct a thorough review of our own agency’s HR division. The professional team took the time needed to build a strong understanding of our situation and to review multiple, essential aspects of our files and protocols. They were prompt in answering our questions and responded knowledgeably. The resulting recommendations were presented with impressive detail and professionalism; it was well worth our investment. We won’t hesitate to collaborate with HR Partners again.”