Do Employers Need to Provide A Prayer Room? | Mann & Elias

Were You Denied Accommodation for Your Religion? Contact Us!

Do you actively engage in prayer throughout the day? If yes, finding a designated place to practice your faith at work can be quite a challenge. Most employees that avoid asking their employers for an accommodation fear what might happen next – from turning the office into a hostile environment or retaliating in a way that can cost them their jobs. Prayer rooms, also known as quiet rooms, are a great solution, but not always a possibility based on the company you work for. Individuals who follow Islamic faith often struggle more when it comes to getting accommodated fairly, without bias. In this article, we explain whether employers must offer prayer rooms and how to approach this situation with ease.  

Practicing Religion at Work Is A Legal Right


It is a constitutional right for everyone in the United States to be able to practice his or her religion or no religion. Just as the government cannot penalize you – neither can the company or business you work for. In 2019 alone, there were more than 70,000 charges of discrimination filed according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Though the numbers have dropped by 10,000 charges in 2020, there are still concerns that need to be addressed and corrected. Religious discrimination is one of them. As Los Angeles workplace lawyers, we are familiar with fears associated with taking a simple prayer break at work, wondering what the staff may think, or fearing retaliation from your boss when he/she is acting with bias.

The Issue at Hand: Finding A Prayer Location


In this example, a Muslim employee addresses how he and co-workers would like to use the company’s conference room for prayer instead of practicing in their cubicles. As is, they are subjected to a noisy environment and confined space. They requested permission from an HR representative, and were denied. According to the company, allowing them to pray in the conference room, would come across as favoritism. Americans across the country experience religious discrimination – especially Muslims. In a 2019 report by The Pew Research Center, the data shows more than 82% of adults indicate they are subject to unfairness in some shape of form. Of the same survey, “a majority (56%) say Muslims are discriminated against a lot,” (Pew) and more likely to experience it at work. So, those in a similar position may wonder whether the response was appropriate, and what steps to follow next.

What Should They Do Now?


Employment lawyers always advise employees to speak up when it comes to workplace accommodations. In this scenario, they made the right decision by asking HR if they can use the conference room at a designated time to pray. In court, it would be hard for the judge to see how briefly using an empty room would create a “hardship” for the employer. If there were meetings that interfered during prayer, it would not be an appropriate location.

This type of accommodation requires extraordinarily little from the company because they do not have to finance and build a prayer room. While it is a true concern that discrimination or favoritism is unlawful, the HR rep misspoke when saying they could not practice their religion. Title VII of the Civil Rights After of 1964, prevents an employer from discriminating against an employee due to religion. One’s belief, or lack of religious belief cannot influence:

  • Hiring decisions
  • Termination
  • Terms of employment / benefits

As the law currently stands, employers are not required to build a designated prayer room. However, under Title VII an employer must accommodate an employee’s religious practices. Requesting to use company space for a religious observance may be allowed (legally if proven) if the company is unable to find an alternative space. In this situation, it seems like the HR representative is uncertain about how to handle the accommodation process. It is also unclear if the response was issued based on discrimination or bias toward their religion. Reaching out to someone else, like an employer, may get you a different response. The best time to reach out to a lawyer for victims of religious discrimination is if you get denied for a second or third time. The company should be held accountable.

Quiet Rooms


Employees should proactively check in for updates and keep a record of the response just in case the work environment turns hostile. If the conference room isn’t available, the company is responsible for exploring other options. Utilizing spaces that remain unused at times throughout the day is a solution. The private space is a great choice for employees (of all faiths or no faith) to practice or simply take religious breaks during the day. Keep in mind this is separate from a break room, where people have lunch, grab coffee, or engage in meetings. When an employer does not take time to consider requests or take them seriously, it is seen as discriminatory behavior. With strong evidence, a religious discrimination lawyer can help you file a claim with the EEOC, company and issue a lawsuit down the road. You shouldn’t settle for less.

About Mann & Elias


The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email info@mannelias.com

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