Accommodating Religious Holidays at Work

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The holiday season is upon us again. The holidays are not only a time for families to come together, but people love to celebrate in the workplace as well. Since many holidays are religious-based, it’s important to know what your employee’s rights are when it comes to celebrating at work.

Employer Responsibilities During the Holidays:

  • You are responsible for making reasonable accommodations for employees that ask for time off or a change in schedule due to religious celebrations. This ranges from acknowledging the need for days off to needing time during the workday for religious practices. See the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s Employment Regulations for more details.
  • An accommodation is not reasonable, “…if accommodating an employee’s religious practices requires anything more than ordinary administrative costs, diminishes efficiency in other jobs, infringes on other employees’ job rights or benefits, impairs workplace safety, causes coworkers to carry the accommodated employee’s share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work, or if the proposed accommodation conflicts with another law or regulation.” California Code of Regulations §11059 et seq.
  • Employees have the right to wear religious garments and symbols in the workplace so long as they do not cause harm or safety concerns to other employees.

The most important take away is to remember that the workplace is a public community and everyone’s religious rights should be taken into consideration. Rules regarding religious rights are in place to protect both the employee and employer; so ideally, any conflict or harm can be avoided.

As an employer, if you have questions, make sure to ask your employment law attorney or your human resources professional for advice. Get it right the first time so you don’t have to fix it later.


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About author:
Asha Wilkerson is the founder of The Wilkerson Law Office, P.C. Ms. Wilkerson provides skilled advice and counsel to for-profit, non-profit, and faith-based organizations in the areas of business and employment law. Her mission is to preserve the longevity of your business by ensuring that every aspect of your organization is legally sound and operating in compliance with state and federal law.

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