Religious Conduct and the Immutability Requirement: Title VII’s Failure to Protect Religious Employees in the Workplace

28 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2009 Last revised: 15 Jul 2016

Debbie Kaminer

City University of NY, Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business

Date Written: November 23, 2009

Abstract

This article examines how the federal courts have used the requirement of immutability to limit an employee’s right to religious accommodation in the workplace under § 701(j) of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Section 701(j) explicitly mandates reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs and observances if accommodation can be made without undue hardship to the employer. The mutable/immutable distinction should therefore not be an issue in the religious accommodation cases since accommodation is mandated by statute regardless of whether religion is an immutable trait. However, a careful reading of the case law and examination of the rhetoric used by the federal courts illustrates that judges often implicitly find that religion is little more than an issue of personal choice and therefore not entitled to protection under § 701(j).

Suggested Citation

Kaminer, Debbie, Religious Conduct and the Immutability Requirement: Title VII’s Failure to Protect Religious Employees in the Workplace (November 23, 2009). Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 17, p. 453, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1511786 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1511786

Debbie Kaminer (Contact Author)

City University of NY, Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way
New York, NY 10010
United States

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