How to Request Accommodation for Your Religious Practice | Mann & Elias

A Walk-Through Example of Requesting Religious Accommodation

In the U.S., the law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for their religious beliefs. In fact, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it clear that hiring, firing, and making decisions about one’s employment based on their religious beliefs is illegal. As you may know, your employer is also required to make reasonable accommodations for your religious practices whether it be for a day, week, month or on a yearly basis. Though, how each company goes about the process may be different.

Employers must walk a thin line and tread lightly when it comes to appropriately addressing an employee request for religious accommodation at work. They have the right to ask for additional information, in accordance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to verify you’re a practicing member. It is solely used to support their accommodation process and cannot be used against you.

You should not have to feel that disclosing your religious practices to your boss or HR might negatively impact your work environment, nor like it may be a nuisance to the company. If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation, or having a hard time submitting a request, schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles workplace lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.

Religious Discrimination Example at Work

Many Americans have been and continue to be discriminated against and disadvantaged whether they are Catholic, Jewish, or followers of Islam faith. We walk you through one example, where an individual wanted to take steps toward creating more of a religious balance at home and work. That included adopting a simpler, modest style like full hair and body coverage. Additionally, engaging in several daily prayer sessions throughout the day. With one of the prayers taking place at 10 a.m. and concerns regarding making adjustments to the uniform, this individual is unsure of how to address this with an employer. A religious discrimination lawyer breaks down what this employee might be able to do.

Schedule A Time to Meet and Discuss

The next step for this individual is to schedule a time to meet and request an accommodation with the manager. Make sure to adequately prepare if questions arise. Explain that you would like to find a way to exercise your religion at work. It is not uncommon for the company to be unfamiliar with your church, mosque, or holy place of practice. So, be prepared to provide insight as to what your belief requires, and which workplace rules need to be adjusted to make it a comfortable, safe experience.

If your employer has around 15 employees, Title VII (federal law) protects you from discrimination. California law also forbids religious discrimination in the workplace in a few different ways, including retaliation and harassment across the board for any company or business. The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (WRFA) expanded protections of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). More specifically, WRFA extends to religious dressing practices.

During the meeting suggest accommodations that work best for you. In this scenario, you may address the uniform requirement. If you wear a head covering during prayer, ask for an exception during that time. Under WRFA the manager cannot force an employee to wear the uniform as is without a reasonable discussion about the possibility of minor modifications. The laws also protect persons married or associated with someone practicing a traditional or organized religion. If you are having a difficult time, or feel the discussion is not going well, consult with a lawyer for religious accommodation disagreements to provide legal help.

Specific Accommodations Are Not Always Granted

While it can feel like getting over the hump is having the conversation alone, adjustments are not always provided exactly as you intended.  Management is not obligated to grant you precisely what you requested. Instead, they will take matters into their hands to come up with a solution that works best. If your religion is not commonly known, your employer might need more information to clarify what you need. It might feel like they are doubting and discrediting your belief or practice, but it is a cautionary measure.

You should also be familiar with religious accommodation request forms. Instead of having a verbal discussion you would provide them with a written submission. Forms are normally issued through HR to act as an official report for documentation. If you feel like you experienced discrimination for your religious beliefs in Los Angeles after the meeting don’t hesitate to reach out to a legal professional for guidance. Discriminatory behaviors need to be addressed immediately and correctly. Appropriate evidence should be gathered promptly to build a strong case for compensation.

What Can Employers Do to Make This Easy?

Sometimes the adjustments are a simple fix. In the example provided, the employer can change weekly meetings from 10 a.m. to an earlier or later time to accommodate prayer. Read on for several strategies employers can follow to make it easier for employees to request an accommodation to exercise their religion at work.

  • Have written criteria for employees to follow.
  • Develop internal procedures for processing requests.
  • Train managers and supervisors on how to recognize requests for religious accommodation.
  • Offer alternative methods of accommodation on a temporary basis when permanent accommodations are getting evaluated.
  • Always update employees on the status of their requests.
  •  If legal questions arise, reach out to an experienced work attorney to prevent racial discrimination lawsuits.

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

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