Religious Diversity in the Workplace: Definition & Laws

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  • 0:03 Religion Diversity in…
  • 1:01 Title VII of the Civil…
  • 1:59 Guidelines of…
  • 3:19 Holy Days and Other Exceptions
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Religion is important to many people. In a perfect world, the workplace would not interfere with religious freedom. However, because the two often intertwine, laws and regulations have been created to protect employees.

Religion Diversity in the Workplace

In today's workplace, there are many rules and regulations to ensure the wellbeing of the employee. This means making sure each employee is treated equally and fairly. While there are some concrete laws that employers have to abide by, there are also some grey areas. This is especially true when it comes to religion in the workplace.

You see, the government has guidelines on how an employer should handle religion in the workplace, but sometimes there are events, days, or time off requests that are left up to the discretion of the employer. In this lesson we will learn about Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on religion. We will also look at The White House Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Expression in the Federal Workplace, which explains what behavior and expectations are acceptable and unacceptable where work and religion meet. We will conclude with special circumstances such as holy days and other religious events.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act states that employers are prohibited from discriminating against a prospective or current employee based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It's a federal law that protects employees when venturing into the workplace. The law also states that it is unlawful to attack someone because they complained about being discriminated against, filed a charge of discrimination, or was a participant in an employment discrimination investigation and/or lawsuit.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees through a number of employment areas including the recruitment and hiring process, assigning pay, consideration of promotions or transfers, training, benefits, use of facilities, and even firing.

Some examples of discrimination based on an employee's religion include:

  1. Not hiring someone because they are a member of a certain faith
  2. Not allowing an employee to be promoted because they pray on their break

Guidelines of Religious Expression

While the title indicates that the guidelines only need to be practiced in a federal workplace, many other places of business abide by the same expectations. On August 14, 1997, President Clinton announced the guidelines as a way to create equality in the workplace. The goal of the guidelines were to make sure federal employees were able to engage in personal religious expression, that employees were not discriminated against based on their religion, and that employers need to reasonably accommodate employees' religious expression.

According to the guidelines, employees are able to express their religion in their personal work areas. This means they can read religious materials on break and keep religious materials on their desk. They are also able to wear religious attire, speak about their religion to others, and even invite fellow employees to religious events.

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