Religion at Work
Many employers are weaving religion and spirituality into company cultures. The push may come from bosses or the rank and file—and their motivations vary.
Employment lawyer Michael Homans of Falster/Greenberg PC in Philadelphia, and co-authors Ingrid Johnson of Legal Services of New Jersey in Edison and Kevin Henry of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated in Charlotte, N.C., in a paper delivered at an American Bar Association conference in April, suggest the following workplace practices regarding religion.
Promote nondenominational “values” and ethics.
Establish a mechanism to review and consider requests for accommodation.
Encourage employees to report any discrimination or harassment.
Train managers and HR professionals on religious discrimination, harassment and accommodation.
Offer employees opportunities to promote voluntary participation in religious and nonreligious activities outside work hours.
Be wary of workplace proselytizing.
Respect employee beliefs, privacy and dignity.
Follow best practices to avoid religious bias, as you would with any equal employment opportunity category.
Mandate attendance at religious services.
Discriminate at work based on religion or nonreligion.
Base accommodation decisions on the religion at issue.
Allow employees to condemn as “evil” or “damned” others who believe differently.
Rely on literature of only one religion to promote values or company ethos.
Give overly generous or solicitous accommodations to employees of one religion unless you are willing to do so for all.
Accommodate individual conduct, speech or religious observances that create a harassing environment for others or otherwise impinge on other employees’ rights.