I regularly notice certain employees carrying prayer mats or wearing religious clothing to work, should I inquire if they need a religious accommodation?
No. It is the obligation of the applicant or employee who seeks a religious accommodation to request it of his/her employer. Once an employee requests a workplace accommodation on the basis of religion, the next step is to discuss whether the request can be granted without an undue hardship on the employer. Undue hardships are determined based on, among other things, the type of workplace, the nature of the employee’s duties, the cost of the request; and the number of employees who will need an accommodation. Courts have found that requests can be legally denied where the accommodation sought infringes on other employees’ job rights or benefits, impairs workplace safety or security, or is unfairly burdensome on other co-workers. Whether to provide a workplace accommodation can be a complicated legal issue and employers should be advised to tread carefully around this subject.
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