Reasonable Accommodation: Dress Codes vs. Religious Dress

Should employers be forced to accept the observance of religious rituals that could affect the bottom line of the business? The answer to this question is complicated. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers are required to reasonably accommodate religious rituals to the extent that the ritual does not cause the business undue hardship.

However, the terms reasonable accommodation and undue hardship are not precisely defined within the four corners of the Civil Rights statute. Cases tried in courtrooms have formed the foundation for interpretation of the written law. An experienced civil rights lawyer can best determine whether an employer violated your rights by refusing to accommodate your religious belief.

Whether a court would find that these policies violate a person’s religious beliefs may depend upon a careful analysis of the following factors:

  • Was the belief religious and sincerely held?
  • Does the belief conflict with a business requirement?
  • Did the applicant or employee make a request for accommodation?
  • If the employer failed to accommodate, did the applicant or employee suffer discharge, discipline or another professional setback for failing to comply with the business policy?
  • Would reasonable accommodation of the religious belief constitute an undue hardship on the employer?

Dress codes are one area in which business policy and religious accommodation may collide. The use of hijabs, yarmulkes, turbans, crosses and other religious symbols may be banned in the some salesperson positions, especially when the use of headgear violates a company’s look policy. If you need a lawyer in New York City or the five boroughs, contact the attorneys at the Derek T. Smith Law Group, PLLC for legal help with filing your claim.

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