Companies Should Accommodate Religion, Within Reason

Companies Should Accommodate Religion, Within Reason Image: Booyabazooka, via Wikimedia Commons

Businesses are required to “reasonably accommodate” religious beliefs. But that doesn’t mean they have to agree to the exact terms their workers propose, explains Warren & Associates attorney Sindy Warren on the firm’s blog.

Warren says that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit opinion in Telfair v. FedEx illustrates this point. She says that the plaintiffs in the case were African-American Jehovah’s Witnesses, and when their work schedules were changed from Monday through Friday to Tuesday through Saturday, they made it clear that working Saturdays would interfere with their religious practices.

Instead, she says, Garrett and Travis Telfair wanted to work Tuesday through Friday. FedEx refused, offering them positions that would allow them to work Monday through Friday, but at a lower rate.

They said no, Warren says, and the company suggested they take a 90-day leave to apply for other positions that would accommodate their religious obligations. Once again, she says, they refused. They were subsequently terminated.

In the end, Warren says the Eleventh Circuit determined that FedEx fulfilled its obligation to reasonably accommodate the Telfairs, even though it did not grant their exact request. “The court was persuaded by the fact that the employer offered alternatives and tried to work with the plaintiffs,” she says.

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