Accommodating Religion at Work: A Principled Approach to Title VII and Religious Freedom
116 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2008
This article examines the problem of balancing several core interests: (1) society's interest in eliminating unfair employment discrimination including discrimination on the basis of religion; (2) an employee's interest in seeking, obtaining, and holding employment free from unfair discrimination; and (3) an employer's interest in the employer's free exercise of religion, including using religious criteria for employment decisions. Also implicated are issues concerning both public and private tolerance of religion, issues concerning the relationship of the state to the individual in religious freedom, and employee interests in associating with employees with similar religious mind-sets. I suggest that most issues of this sort be resolved through a practical approach not dissimilar to that advanced for disability-related employment disputes as originally conceived under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For those issues which cannot be resolved through such pragmatic means, I propose that such problems should not be decided by relatively rigid application of formulaic rules, but rather through carefully nuanced consideration of the seemingly imprecise principle of accommodation tempered by and informed by the principles and ideals of tolerance, equality, neutrality, and inclusion.
Keywords: discrimination, employment, religion, free exercise, constitutional law, civil rights act, employment discrimination
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