Diversity & Inclusion

New EEOC guidance on religious discrimination in the workplace

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) has issued a new section in its compliance manual on religious discrimination in the workplace. The agency concluded that the sharp rise in the number of religious discrimination charges, the growing religious diversity in the United States, and requests for guidance from stakeholders warranted the new compliance manual section.

The section includes a comprehensive review of the relevant provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the EEOC’s policies regarding religious discrimination, harassment, and accommodation. The commission also issued a companion question-and-answer fact sheet and best practices booklet.

The new section in the compliance manual addresses what constitutes religion under Title VII, disparate treatment based on religion, the requirement to reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and practices, and religion-based harassment and retaliation. It also provides guidance on balancing employee rights in regard to religious expression with employers’ need to maintain efficient, productive workplaces.

According to the EEOC, the number of religious discrimination filings by workers in the private sector has more than doubled in the past 15 years, from 1,388 in fiscal year 1992 to 2,880 in fiscal year 2007.

For more insight, go to www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/religion.html.