Religion may be a staple in the lives of many of your employees, while others may not consider themselves religious at all. To ensure that all employees are treated equally, create an environment that enables employees to practice their beliefs without forcing them on others. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must try to “reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs, observances and practices when requested, unless accommodation would impose an undue hardship on business operations.” The following provides some best practices in finding the right balance for your organization.
To ensure employees are treated equally during the holidays, consider the following:
• When planning holiday-related parties or events for your organization, avoid focusing on one religion’s holidays—consider celebrating holidays as a whole, or including multiple holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, the Day of Enlightenment, etc.
• Allow employees to display holiday-related decorations in their personal workspaces, if they do not offend others or infringe upon their beliefs.
• Provide flexible scheduling, the option of telecommuting or paid leave, and give employees the option of using these benefits to attend religious services or to be away from work for holidays your organization does not recognize.
• Avoid planning important work-related events (such as mandatory meetings and company-sponsored holiday parties) on days that coincide with holidays, even if they are holidays you do not personally celebrate.
• Offer holiday swapping or floating holidays for employees who prefer to work on company-recognized holidays and use their holiday time on different days.
Consider employing the following practices within your company:
• In your cafeteria and at company-sponsored events, offer foods that meet a variety of common religious-based dietary constraints.
• Allow for dress code modifications to accommodate religious apparel.
• Designate a private space in your office that employees may use for religious practices and prayer during their break times.