EEOC Policy: Religious Accommodation Best Practices

EEOC Policy: Religious Accommodation Best Practices

As several religious holidays approach throughout the fall and winter seasons, this post serves as an HR compliance reminder for best practices for religious accommodations in the workplace.

In March of this year, the EEOC published the press release, EEOC Issues New Publications on Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Practical Guides Will Assist Employers and Employees. From the press release issued 3/6/14, “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today issued two new technical assistance publications addressing workplace rights and responsibilities with respect to religious dress and grooming under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The Fact Sheet, FAQ, and Best Practices guides were designed to, ‘…provide a user-friendly discussion of the applicable law, practical advice for employers and employees, and numerous case examples based on the EEOC’s litigation.

Employers covered by Title VII must make exceptions to their usual rules or preferences to permit applicants and employees to follow religiously-mandated dress and grooming practices unless it would pose an undue hardship to the operation of an employer’s business.  When an exception is made as a religious accommodation, the employer may still refuse to allow exceptions sought by other employees for secular reasons.”

We invite you to download, and make available, the following EEOC documents:


This fact sheet provides basic information about how federal employment discrimination law applies to religious dress and grooming practices.


This publication by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) answers questions about how federal employment discrimination law applies to religious dress and grooming practices, and what steps employers can take to meet their legal responsibilities in this area.


This document from the EEOC provides best practices for eradicating religious discrimination in the workplace.


Employer best practices are covered in each of the following categories within the above documentation from the EEOC:

  • Disparate Treatment Based on Religion
  • Religious Harassment
  • Reasonable Accommodation of Religious Beliefs and Practices
    • Reasonable Accommodation – Generally
    • Undue Hardship – Generally
    • Schedule Changes
    • Voluntary Substitutes or Swaps
    • Change of Job Assignment and Lateral Transfers
    • Modifying Workplace Practices, Policies, and Procedures
    • Permitting Prayer, Proselytizing, and Other Forms of Religious Expression
  • Retaliation

HR Compliance Assistance

If you need assistance incorporating a Religious Accommodation Policy into your employee handbook, please contact a FosterThomas HR Compliance Specialist.


About the Author

FosterThomas is a leading professional services company that provides solutions in the areas of Human Resources Consulting and Outsourcing, HR Staffing, Outsourced Recruiting, Employee Benefits Brokerage, Payroll Implementation and Services, HR for Government Contractors, Business Insurance, HR Compliance and Risk Management. We help organizations by providing solutions designed with a focus on cost containment strategies and increasing HR efficiency. FosterThomas HR Consulting was established in 1993 with offices in Annapolis, Maryland (Corporate), McLean, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina. Today, FosterThomas occupies a unique position as a full service provider of HR services.

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