Dress codes and employee religious practices

There are many different policies employers put in place regarding their workers. It is extremely important for employers to make sure none of their policies are wrongfully discriminatory against workers, such as discriminatory on the basis of religion.

One policy employers sometime have are dress codes for their employees. Workplace dress codes generally are permissible.

One could see though how a workplace dress code could potentially pose problems for workers who belong to certain religions. Some religions have rules regarding what their adherents are supposed to wear and not supposed to wear. Thus, one thing an employee may wonder is: What can I do if the dress code in my workplace is in conflict with clothing-related rules of my religion?

One thing they can do is make a request to their employer to accommodate their clothing-related religious practices. Under federal law, employers generally are required to make reasonable accommodations for their employees when a workplace dress code is in conflict with employee religious practices. Such accommodations could include allowing the employee to be exempt from a certain part of the dress code or modifying the dress code so it no longer is in conflict with the employee’s religious practices.

As a note, employers are not required to make dress-code-related accommodations that would cause them undue hardship.

Unfortunately, employers do not always do what they are required to under federal anti-discrimination laws. Thus, it is possible for an employee to face a situation of having a valid request for a religious-practices-related reasonable accommodation to a workplace dress code wrongfully denied. Legal remedies may be available for employees in such situations.

Thus, if an employee believes that they were the victim of a wrongful denial of reasonable accommodations for religious practices, such as a wrongful denial of a dress code accommodation, they should consider asking an employee rights lawyer about their legal options.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices,” Accessed Jan. 29, 2015

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