Written by Don Byrd
Via Religion Clause, the EEOC has issued new guidance regarding religious attire and grooming practices in the workplace. The publication describes the “rights and responsibilities” of employers, emphasizing that federal law prohibits disparate treatment on the job, the denial of accommodation, workplace segregation, workplace harassment, or retaliation for accommodation requests.
Examples of religious dress and grooming practices include wearing religious clothing or articles (e.g., a Muslim hijab (headscarf), a Sikh turban, or a Christian cross); observing a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (e.g., a Muslim, Pentecostal Christian, or Orthodox Jewish woman’s practice of not wearing pants or short skirts), or adhering to shaving or hair length observances (e.g., Sikh uncut hair and beard, Rastafarian dreadlocks, or Jewish peyes (sidelocks)).
In most instances, employers are required by federal law to make exceptions to their usual rules or preferences to permit applicants and employees to observe religious dress and grooming practices.
Included in the publication is 21 examples to guide employers and employees, noting that the number of workplace discrimination complaints on the basis of religion has more than doubled since 1997.