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The importance of clear workplace policies on religion

Federal law bans religious discrimination in the workplace. It also generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers regarding religious beliefs and practices.

Religion can be a tricky issue for employers. Managers at companies can come across a range of workplace situations that could lead to discrimination claims by workers if the wrong steps are taken.

Religious discrimination is something it has become more and more common for employers to be accused of in recent times. EEOC data indicates that, over the last 15 years, complaints of such discrimination have gone up over 50 percent.

Being accused of such discrimination can expose employers to many things. This includes the possibility of taking a major financial hit. The past 15 years have seen settlement amounts related to religious discrimination complaints more than double, according EEOC data.

What can businesses do take to take guesswork out of the equation for managers and help managers avoid critical mistakes when complex issues related to religion come up in the workplace? One key step is to have a clear written policy on religion and employees. It is important for such policies to be:

  • Well-designed: The laws related to religion and the workplace are complex. It’s important that a policy is designed in a way that it promotes practices that will help managers steer clear of conduct that can run afoul of these laws. Lawyers can assist employers with drafting such policies.
  • Well-communicated: In order for a policy to have a positive impact within a workplace, it needs to be properly communicated to managers and workers.
  • Evenly applied: Uneven application of a policy could expose a company to the very problems the policy is aimed at preventing. So, it is critical for companies to take steps to ensure their managers are applying such policies evenly.

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