2011-Religious-Discrimination-and-Accommodation.doc -...

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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. Religious Discrimination 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 views. In most cases, whether or not a practice or belief is religious is not an issue. However, 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” beliefs. 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. Religious discrimination 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

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