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The United Kingdom and other countries have experienced recent acts of terrorism in in the name of religion, with the United States seeing an increase in protests by extremist groups. When employees holding or expressing extremist views bring those views to the workplace, it can create numerous management issues, creating polarization and division among employees, frequently resulting in disputes, disruptions and other unwanted conduct. Even conduct engaged in outside the workplace can create concerns, especially when that conduct is made public through commercial media or, as is frequently the case, on social media. While U.S. and U.K. workplace laws are not identical, in managing the repercussions of extremist behavior by employees, a primary focus of employers in both jurisdictions is ensuring the safety of the workplace, followed by ensuring employees are free of harassment or discrimination because of religious beliefs or any other protected rights. Companies should promote tolerance and acceptance of different views in the workplace. However, allowing employees to hold differing religious or political views must be balanced with the obligation to provide a safe work environment. For employers, it is this competing obligation that creates the greatest challenge.

One of the problems with religious extremism is that there is no agreement about its definition. Different groups and organizations define it differently. In general, extremism is defined as an ideology violating common moral standards. This can be true of any behavior that reaches a point where it is deemed extremist, whether religious or political. The laws of the United States and the U.K. both prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace, and protect the right of employees to express religious beliefs. Thus, employers in both countries must manage workplace demonstrations of extreme beliefs, whether religious or some other strongly held point of view, in a way that does not infringe on the protected religious views of the employee.

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  • Meyers Roman Friedberg And Amp; Lewis

/uploads/sites/390/2017/10/Religion_Praying_Hands128.jpg" alt="" width="128" height="128" /> The United Kingdom and other countries have experienced recent acts of terrorism in in the name of religion, with the United States seeing an increase in protests by extremist groups. When employees holding or expressing extremist views bring those views to the workplace, it can create numerous management issues, creating polarization and division among employees, frequently resulting in disputes, disruptions and other unwanted conduct. Even conduct engaged in outside the workplace can create concerns, especially when that conduct is made public through commercial media or, as is frequently the case, on social media. While U.S. and U.K. workplace laws are not identical, in managing the repercussions of extremist behavior by employees, a primary focus of employers in both jurisdictions is ensuring the safety of the workplace, followed by ensuring employees are free of harassment or discrimination because of religious beliefs or any other protected rights. Companies should promote tolerance and acceptance of different views in the workplace. However, allowing employees to hold differing religious or political views must be balanced with the obligation to provide a safe work environment. For employers, it is this competing obligation that creates the greatest challenge. One of the problems with religious extremism is that there is no agreement about its definition. Different groups and organizations define it differently. In general, extremism is defined as an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology">ideology</a> violating <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality">common moral standards</a>. This can be true of any behavior that reaches a point where it is deemed extremist, whether religious or political. The laws of the United States��and the U.K. both prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace, and protect the right of employees to express religious beliefs. Thus, employers in both countries must manage workplace demonstrations of extreme beliefs, whether religious or some other strongly held point of view, in a way that does not infringe on the protected religious views of the employee. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the primary federal U.S. law that prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace as to any employment decision. Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from taking any employment action based upon an employee���s religious views. Employers may not treat employees differently due to their religious beliefs and, if a conflict arises between a religious practice and a workplace policy, the employer must try to accommodate the employee���s religious practice. The Equality Act 2010 protects these rights in the U.K., and there is the expectation that employer practices can be adapted to accommodate employees��� beliefs. Hiring or termination decisions based upon an ���extremist��� religious view could create a risk of discrimination claims. ��Although extremism is not classified as a protected characteristic, the employee���s religion and belief must be worthy of respect in a democratic and civilized society. In some circumstances, employers may take action that limits a U.K. worker���s freedom of expression. However, such limitations must be justified. The factors considered in evaluating justification include when the statement was made; the nature of the employee���s work and the position; and what damage the employer may suffer as a result of the statements. <strong>When Extremism Creates a Safety Risk</strong> Both U.K. and U.S. employers are obligated to provide a safe work environment. This obligation allows and, in fact, requires, employers to manage extremist behavior displayed at work, whether for religious reasons or another cause. Employers may manage workplace safety in a number of ways, including background screening at the time of hire, monitoring during employment, and establishing internal policies and procedures regarding acceptable workplace behavior. The methodology is usually defined or restricted by legal requirements. In addition to the general statutory obligation to protect the health and safety of workers, a U.K. employer must conduct a risk assessment to identify and minimize, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety risks employees face while at work. For employees traveling for work abroad, preventative and protective measures may include such various considerations as vaccinations, security guards, insurance and emergency contingency plans. U.K. employers are permitted to conduct background checks; however, this practice is highly regulated, particularly by the Data Protection Act (1998). Likewise, while employers are permitted to monitor employees��� activities, any monitoring must be consistent with Article 8 ECHR (right to respect for private and family life). The interception of communications is also subject to additional regulations. Employees in the U.K. that express extremist views at work may create a hostile work environment for other employees. In response to such conduct, the employer may take action under anti-bullying or anti-harassment policies or even through the use of health and safety policies. U.S. employers have a general duty to provide a safe work environment that is set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). One method commonly used to accomplish this in the United States. is background screening. A background screen is permissible by both federal law and by many states, so long as the inquiries or information regarding religion is not factored into the hiring decision. The background screening is also subject to other scrutiny to ensure that inappropriate factors are not relied upon in making an employment decision. Another method of ensuring a safe work environment is monitoring employees��� workplace activities. While an employer must provide notice of its intent to conduct such monitoring, the monitoring of workplace activity such as computer, internet usage and GPS activity can be useful in determining if there is a possible threat to the organization. However, a company���s most useful tool for managing extremist behavior of any kind is a clearly defined set of workplace rules for conduct and behavior that establishes a ���no-tolerance��� policy for serious or severe conduct issues. Generally, an employer can adopt strong anti-harassment and workplace violence policies to address behavior that is considered extreme or inappropriate for the workplace. Employment decisions based on a violation of the rules would be based upon a legitimate business interest, such as providing a safe workplace and should, therefore, not run afoul of the protections against religious discrimination. But, like the U.K., in the U.S., inappropriate conduct that occurs away from the workplace should be given more scrutiny before taking any employment action. The most significant way an employer can protect its workforce from extremism is by implementing strong internal policies that clearly define the expectations at the workplace. However, since there is not a definitive or clear definition of extremist behavior, employers in the United States��and the U.K. must try to balance the competing interests of keeping the workplace safe and respecting the varying religious and political views held among employees. <em>James Davies from Lewis Silkin, Ius Laboris member firm in the U.K., provided valuable national input to the article.</em> &nbsp; <

  • Meyers Roman Friedberg And Amp; Lewis

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