Adequate accommodation or workplace religious discrimination

by on December 31, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Questions about Religious Discrimination in the workplace are tricky

How far must you go in accommodating employees who want to avoid working on their religious day of rest?

Farther than the employer in a case in Arkansas, where a court ruled that simply allowing an employee to swap out of his Sunday shift wasn’t enough.

Sunday morning preacher

The employee was a lay preacher in his church. His schedule required him to work on Sundays, but he’d always been able to trade shifts with a buddy. When his friend retired, though, the employee was stuck. He refused to work Sunday morning so he accumulated penalty points under the firm’s attendance policy.

After the employer threatened consequences if he continued to miss Sunday morning work, the employee sued for workplace religious discrimination.

Other Options

The judge said he had a case. Just passively permitting shift swaps wasn’t necessarily all the employer could be expected to do in this situation.

While the judge didn’t say what the employer should have done, it’s easy to see what an employer in this situation could do to avoid going to court.

Putting the employee on a different shift, transferring him to another job, or helping him solicit other shift-swap partners might have avoided a workplace religious discrimination lawsuit.

Cite: Kenner v. Domtar Industries, No. 04-CV-4021, W.D. Ark., 3/3/06.

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.