Religious Discrimination and Accommodation
in the Federal Workplace
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against
employees or applicants for employment because of their
religious beliefs in hiring, firing and other terms and
conditions of employment.
Additionally, Title VII requires
federal agencies to reasonably accommodate the religious
beliefs or practices of employees or applicants unless doing
so would impose an undue hardship upon the agency.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines “religious beliefs” to include
theistic beliefs (i.e. those that include a belief in God) as well as non-theistic moral or ethical
beliefs about right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious
In most cases, whether or not a practice or belief is religious is not an issue.
generally, religion typically concerns “ultimate ideas” about “life, purpose and death,” while
social, political and/or economic philosophies and mere personal preferences are not “religious”
It is important to consider that an individual’s religious beliefs may change over time.
Additionally, individuals may choose to adhere to some tenets of their religion but not others,
and/or individuals may have a sincere belief in a religious practice that is not observed by other
followers of their religion.
Title VII also protects employees or applicants from discrimination if
they do not subscribe to a particular religious view and/or are atheist.
can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated
with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious
organization or group.
An employee cannot be forced to participate (or not participate) in a