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Must employers grant religious days off during the week?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Employment Law |

In New York, employers are legally obligated to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices. This is in line with both federal and state laws safeguarding religious freedom. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and New York State law, employers must make religious reasonable accommodations unless they are an undue hardship to business operations.

What constitutes reasonable accommodation?

Employers must provide adjustments, known as a religious accommodations, to the work environment enabling employees to practice their religion. Such accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift swaps, job reassignments, adaptations to workplace policies and more.

What is the undue hardship exception?

While accommodations are mandated, employers need not comply if the reasonable accommodation poses an undue hardship to the business. An undue hardship is defined by significant costs or disruptions to business operations. Determining undue hardship is situational and requires careful consideration by the employer as it is their burden to prove, should litigation occur as a result of the denied accommodation.

Engaging in the interactive process

Employers must collaborate with employees to identify suitable and reasonable accommodations. This is known as the interactive process, and it involves understanding employees’ needs and exploring accommodations that can be feasibly implemented by the employer.

Must employers grant religious days off during the week?

Perhaps. Staten Island employers must diligently navigate religious accommodations to foster a workplace respecting religious diversity while complying with the law. If granting such an accommodation does not pose an undue hardship, then, yes, the employer must grant religious days off.

By embracing legal requirements and engaging transparently with employees, employers can cultivate an inclusive work environment aligned with statutory obligations.

For comprehensive guidance on religious accommodations and legal compliance, employers can access resources from the New York State Division of Human Rights.