Accommodating Religion at Work: A Principled Approach to Title VII and Religious Freedom

116 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2008

See all articles by Steven D. Jamar

Steven D. Jamar

Howard University School of Law; IIPSJ


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

Suggested Citation

Jamar, Steven D., Accommodating Religion at Work: A Principled Approach to Title VII and Religious Freedom. New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 40, pp. 719-832, 1996. Available at SSRN:

Steven D. Jamar (Contact Author)

Howard University School of Law ( email )

2900 Van Ness Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
United States


IIPSJ ( email )

United States


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