On Oct 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Fee (EEOC) issued new steering about religious lodging in reaction to the Occupational Security and Health and fitness Administration’s pending Unexpected emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS will have to have private businesses with at least 100 workforce, to mandate their staff members to be completely vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. As such, it is expected companies will face an influx of honest and insincere religious lodging requests from their employees to bypass the vaccine requirement. Listed here are the critical takeaways from the EEOC’s assistance:
- Staff members need to advise their employer that they are trying to get an lodging/exception to the COVID-19 vaccination necessity. They must specify their reason for carrying out so is because their sincerely held religious beliefs, techniques, or observances conflicts with obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Employees do not will need to exclusively point out “reasonable accommodation” or “Title VII” when building their request.
Distinguishing between a sincerely held spiritual perception and own/philosophical beliefs
- The EEOC provides that beneath Title VII, an employer “should believe that a ask for for religious accommodation is centered on sincerely held religious beliefs.” Nevertheless, an employer has the suitable to make a “limited factual inquiry” and look for more data if they have an objective basis for questioning the sincerity of the employee’s perception. If an personnel refuses to present additional information and facts, they possibly lose a subsequent failure to accommodate assert.
- It is crucial to be aware that Title VII does not defend social, political, or economic views or particular preferences. Even so, it does guard “nontraditional spiritual beliefs that may perhaps be unfamiliar to companies.” Therefore an employer ought to not easily think an employee’s belief is insincere mainly because they have not heard about it.
- The EEOC lists numerous aspects employers really should take into consideration when assessing the sincerity of a spiritual lodging ask for: “whether the worker has acted in a method inconsistent with the professed belief (whilst personnel will need not be scrupulous in their observance) regardless of whether the lodging sought is a specifically attractive benefit that is likely to be sought for nonreligious motives whether or not the timing of the ask for renders it suspect (e.g., it follows an before request by the personnel for the identical reward for secular explanations) and regardless of whether the employer if not has rationale to imagine the lodging is not sought for religious causes.”
Determining Undue Hardship
- Beneath Title VII, businesses are not obligated to grant a affordable lodging ask for if the accommodation will bring about an undue hardship on the employer’s operations. Nevertheless, the EEOC gives, “employer[s] should really completely take into consideration all possible realistic lodging, which includes telework and reassignment [as]… [i]n numerous situations, it may perhaps be probable to accommodate individuals in search of affordable accommodations for their religious beliefs with no imposing an undue hardship.” Continue to keep in brain, evaluating the existence of an undue hardship is an individualized, simple fact-based mostly evaluation.
- The EEOC advises considering these pandemic-related components when figuring out if an undue hardship exists: “whether the worker requesting a religious lodging to a COVID-19 vaccination need operates outdoor or indoors, operates in a solitary or group function environment, or has close get in touch with with other staff members or associates of the general public (particularly medically susceptible people today)., and the variety of staff members who are trying to get a very similar accommodation (i.e., the cumulative value or stress on the employer).”
Deciding on a fair lodging
- An employer does not need to decide on an employee’s desired fair accommodation if there are several helpful lodging the employer can pick from.
Modifying/Discontinuing spiritual lodging.
- The EEOC offers as employees’ spiritual beliefs change over time, the require for unique or added religious accommodation may perhaps crop up. Nevertheless, an employer “has the ideal to discontinue a earlier granted lodging if it is no longer utilized for spiritual purposes, or if a supplied lodging subsequently poses an undue hardship on the employer’s functions thanks to changed circumstances.”
Further info and steerage on tests tactics and recommendations can be located on the EEOC website.
A special thank you to law clerk Naomi Gulama for her assistance in getting ready this write-up.