Religion is a fundamental set of beliefs and practices that are generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. In the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legislation, Religion include all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief; unless an employer demonstrates that he/she is unable to reasonably accommodate an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business (FindUSLaw, 2008).
The meaning of reasonable accommodation is determined by the human resources. On the other hand, undue hardship may differ from employer to employer.
However, religious accommodation may be granted if it does not in any way infringe on the rights of the other workers. Certain practices are easily accommodated while others cannot be accommodated in the workplace. This paper covers the religious practices of the orthodox Jewish, the Hindu and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ practices, and whether these practices can be accommodated in the workplace, or not.
One of the main practices of the three aforementioned religions is the observance of holy days during which some of their religious faithful are not allowed to work. The Orthodox Jewish day of rest (Sabbath) is Saturday. On this day, the use of all electrical appliances is highly prohibited.
This includes driving, turning on lights, or even cooking. The Mormon holy day is Sunday and on this day, Mormons are advised to rest and worship. Mormons celebrate two religious festivals namely, Easter and Christmas. In the other hand, Hindus have many festivals whose dates change from year to year.
During these festivals, they worship, fast, feast, and perform other rituals. Some of these practices can be accommodated in the workplace. Those employers who require their employees to work on Saturdays can make an exception. Some practices that may not be accommodated include fasting if the employees were too weak to work. Orthodox fast days are spread throughout the year. During this time, no food or water is consumed for 25 hours (Rabin, 2011). This could be considered as undue hardships.
Certain religious practices require a certain dress style. Orthodox Jewish women wear head coverings and are not allowed to wear pants while Jewish men grow sideburns and wear hats. Hindu women wear a special dress known as a mangalsutra while orthodox Hindu men grow a small pony tail on the back of their heads. Mormons are required to wear modest clothing that is not clingy. If a dress style poses a security risk, it cannot be accommodated.
There are clothes that may be inappropriate for certain jobs especially those that are likely to get tangled up in machinery. If a dress code is not in line with the organizations’ public image or if it does not promote a productive work environment, the employer has a right not to accommodate it. If a dress code is based on business needs and applied uniformly, it generally will not violate employee civil rights (Thomas, 2007).
The three religions have strict guidelines on what food should be consumed. The Mormons do not drink caffeine or tea or any beverage that may be addictive. They are also encouraged to consume grains, herbs and fruits and to eat meat sparingly.
Some Hindus do not eat meat, fish or eggs and the orthodox Jewish do not eat foods that are not kosher. This is a practice that can be accommodated by an employer by providing a wider variety of foods on their menu and ensuring that Hindu foods are cooked and heated in different containers from the ones used for cooking meat.
The Hindu paradigm of Dharma-of doing one’s duty is a powerful force in the workplace. Dharma is not enough because Hindus have been castigated for being clannish and unwilling to mix with others (Srinivasan, 2007, p. 1). This has been attributed to the caste system. If the job they are doing involves networking or working in teams, this behavior cannot be accommodated.
This decision is also strengthened by the fact that the caste system is illegal in India where the Hindu community originated from. It’s not unlawful for an employer to take action against an employee in a foreign country if compliance with the employee’s demand would cause the employer to violate the law of the foreign country (FindUSLaw, 2008).
The prayer requirements of the three religions vary. Many Hindus are required to pray three times a day. During this time, they bring a plate, a cup of water and a spoon. Accommodations can easily by providing space where they can pray and store their prayer items. The orthodox Jewish and Mormon daily prayer practices do not require special considerations.
There are instances where the employer is allowed by law to hire employees based on their religion. If religion is a bonafide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or if the employer is an education institution owned, supported or controlled by a particular religion (FindUSLaw, 2008).
FindUSLaw. (2008). Civil Rights Act of 1964- CRA- Title VII- Equal Employment
Opportunities-42 US Code Chapter 21. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from FindUSLaw website: http://finduslaw.com/civil_rights_act_of_1964_cra_title_vii_equal_employment_opportunities_42_us_code_chapter_21
Rabin, R. C. 2011. Rabbis sound an alarm over eating disorders. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from The New York Times Website http://www.nytimes.com
Srinivasan, R. (2007). The Hindu Work Ethic. Shadow Warrior. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://rajeev2007.wordpress.com/category/hindu/
Thomas, R. (2007). Dress code legal issues. HR Matters E-Tips Retrieved November 30, 2011, from the Personnel Policy Service website: http://www.ppspublishers.com/biz/dresscode.htm