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Religion in the Workplace – for Supervisors

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Title: Religion in the Workplace – for Supervisors


1
Religion in the Workplace for Supervisors
2
Introduction
  • As workplaces continue to become more diverse,
    religion is becoming a significant workplace
    issue. Employees of diverse backgrounds may
    request accommodation to practice daily religious
    activities or to follow their religious beliefs.
    Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,
    employers must provide a reasonable accommodation
    for requests that are based on employees'
    sincerely held religious beliefs or practices
    unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on
    their business operations. In addition employers
    must ensure that employees are not discriminated
    against or harassed on the basis of religion.
  • This sample presentation is intended for
    presentation to supervisors and other individuals
    who manage other employees. It is designed to be
    presented by an individual who has knowledge of
    the law and best practices regarding religious
    issues in the workplace. This is a sample
    presentation that must be customized to include
    and match the employers own policies and
    practices.

3
Objectives
  • At the close of this session, you will be able
    to
  • Understand the types of religious issues that may
    appear in the workplace
  • State why it is important to prevent religious
    discrimination and provide accommodations when
    possible
  • Describe the company policy and procedures on
    religious discrimination and religious
    accommodations
  • Describe types of religious accommodations that
    we may provide
  • Understand your responsibilities as supervisors
    to respond to complaints of religious
    discrimination and requests for accommodation

4
Religious Issues That May Arise in the Workplace
  • Complaints of discrimination based on an
    employees expressions of faith or on religious
    beliefs or practices
  • Example Amani Mahin, who works in the
    accounting department, files a formal complaint
    that several co-workers are making fun of the
    burka she wears and are making derogatory remarks
    about her religion (Islam).
  • Example John Marks, who works in the sales
    department, complains about another employee who
    has a shrine in her cubicle which is next to
    his.

5
Religious Issues That May Arise in the Workplace
(contd)
  • Requests for time off as an accommodation
    Employee may ask for partial days or full days
    off to attend religious services or comply with
    their religious beliefs. These may be occasional
    absences or ongoing change in their work schedule
  • Example Mary Brooks, who works in the meetings
    department, asks permission to be absent for
    Ramadan, an Islamic holiday.
  • Example John Connor, who works in the
    maintenance department, asks to have his schedule
    changed from working on Saturdays to working on
    Sundays as his religion (Judaism) observes
    Saturdays as the Sabbath

6
Religious Issues That May Arise in the Workplace
(contd)
  • Request to use employers property for religious
    practices or activities as an accommodation
  • Example Bobby Jones, who works in the call
    center, asks if he can organize a prayer group
    with co-workers and conduct meetings in a
    conference room during part of their lunch times.
  • Example Amanda Smith, who works in the sales
    department, wants to add Have a blessed day to
    her phone greeting.

7
Questions? Comments?
8
Why Prevent Religious Discrimination Why
Accommodate?
  • The concepts of freedom of speech and freedom of
    religion are concepts that Americans hold dear
    and that are protected under the Constitution and
    federal and state laws.

9
Why Prevent Religious Discrimination Why
Accommodate? (contd)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires
    employers to
  • Provide a workplace free from religious
    discrimination (including harassment)
  • Provide a reasonable accommodation for employees
    seriously held religious beliefs unless the
    accommodation would impose an undue hardship on
    the company. (What constitutes reasonable
    accommodation and undue hardship depends on each
    situations facts.)

10
Why Prevent Religious Discrimination Why
Accommodate? (contd)
  • Discrimination based on religion just as when
    based on gender, age, disability, ethnic origin
    harms us all. The most important part of our
    corporate values is that all employees are
    treated with respect and dignity.
  • Engaging in, condoning, not reporting religious
    discrimination is in direct conflict with our
    values.

11
Questions? Comments?
12
(Name of company) Policy and Procedures on
Religious Discrimination and Accommodations

(Note to presenter Provide copies of your policy
and procedures to all attendees and review all or
most important components. You may also want to
add most important part of these to this
presentation. Included in this sample is a
typical procedure for considering providing a
religious accommodation.)
13
(Name of company) Procedure for Religious
Accommodations
  • Follow these steps when you (a supervisor)
    become aware of an employees need for or receive
    an employees request for a religious
    accommodation
  • Immediately inform the HR Director
  • Meet privately as soon as possible with the
    employee to determine what the issue is

14
(Name of company) Procedure for Religious
Accommodations (contd)
  • Ask the employee to complete and submit to you
    the employees portion of companys Request for
    Religious Accommodation form available from the
    HR Department.
  • Ask the employee to submit with the form
    documentation of his/her religious belief or
    practice as it relates to the accommodation
    request. Documentation would come from the leader
    or other staff at the employees religious
    institution.

15
(Name of company) Procedure for Religious
Accommodations (contd)
  • Review and discuss the request with the HR
    Director and decide on what, if any, reasonable
    accommodation may be made that does not create an
    undue hardship on the business.
  • Complete the employers portion of the Request
    for Religious Accommodation form.
  • Meet with the employee regarding the request and
    discuss the decision. Make any additional notes
    on the accommodation form and submit it to the HR
    Director.

16
Questions? Comments?
17
Types of Religious Accommodations that We May
Provide
  • Changes in Work Schedule Using the examples of
    a religious issue from the beginning of this
    presentation
  • Example - Mary Brooks, who works in the meetings
    department, asks permission to be absent for
    Ramadan, an Islamic holiday. If all procedures
    are followed and Mary submits documentation for
    this request and if we have adequate staffing
    available that day, we would decide that this
    would be a reasonable accommodation that would
    not create an undue hardship on the business. We
    would approve this request.
  • Example - John Connor, who works in the
    maintenance department, asks to have his schedule
    changed from working on Saturdays to working on
    Sundays as his religion (Judaism) observes
    Saturday as the Sabbath. Even if all procedures
    were followed and John submits documentation for
    this request, because John was hired specifically
    to work on weekends and no other staff is
    available to perform his duties, we would decide
    that this is not a reasonable accommodation that
    would not create an undue hardship on us. We
    would deny this request.

18
Types of Religious Accommodations that We May
Provide (contd)
  • Exceptions to dress code and appearance policy
  • Example Amani Mahin, who works in the
    accounting department, asks permission to wear a
    burka to work. If Amani and her manager follow
    all procedures for this request and Amani
    submits documentation from her religious leader,
    we would determine that this is a reasonable
    accommodation that does not create an undue
    hardship. We would approve this request.
  • Example Tanvi Gandi, who works as a cook in
    the cafeteria, asks permission to wear a sari to
    work. Even if Tanvi and her manager follow all
    procedures for this request and Tanvi submits
    documentation from her religious leader, we would
    determine that the wearing of a sari while
    cooking presents a safety hazard to Tanvi, her
    co-workers and the business. We would decide
    that that this is not a reasonable accommodation
    that does not create an undue hardship. We would
    deny this request.

19
Types of Religious Accommodations that We May
Provide (contd)
  • Use of Company Property - Using the examples of a
    religious issue from the beginning of this
    presentation
  • Example Bobby Jones, who works in the call
    center, asks if he can organize a prayer group
    with co-workers and conduct meetings in a
    conference room during part of their lunch times.
    Even if Bobby and his manager follow all
    procedures for this request and Bobby submits
    documentation from his religious leader, we would
    consider that allowing this could be perceived as
    an endorsement of one type of religion and may
    lead to other employees asking for meeting rooms
    to conduct their own prayer group meetings. We
    also consider that our conference rooms as well
    as other facilities are for business purposes
    only. We would determine that this is not a
    reasonable accommodation that does not create an
    undue hardship. We would not approve this
    request.

20
Types of Religious Accommodations that We May
Provide (contd)
  • Use of Company Property (contd) - Using the
    examples of a religious issue from the beginning
    of this presentation
  • Example Amanda Smith, who works in the sales
    department, wants to add Have a Blessed Day to
    her phone greeting. Even if Amanda and her
    manager follow all procedures for this request
    and Amanda submits documentation from her
    religious leader, we would consider that allowing
    this could be perceived as an endorsement of one
    type of religion and may lead to other employees
    asking to add similar religious sounding phrases
    on their phone greetings. We also consider that
    our phone system and greetings are for business
    purposes only and not to convey personal wishes,
    however nice. We would determine that this is
    not a reasonable accommodation that does not
    create an undue hardship. We would not approve
    this request.

21
Questions? Comments?
22
Responsibilities of Supervisors
  • Know and comply with our policy and procedures
  • Immediately report any complaint that you receive
    from your employees or incidents that you witness
    involving other supervisors employees to the HR
    Director

23
Responsibilities of Supervisors (contd)
  • Do not object if an employee prefers to or
    actually does bypass the standard chain of
    command
  • Respond to any employees complaint as soon as
    possible
  • Do not engage in retaliation against an employee
    who complains of religious discrimination or
    harassment

24
Responsibilities of Supervisors (contd)
  • Investigations are conducted by the HR Director
    or by the companys legal counsel
  • Be available for interviews and provide as much
    information as possible
  • Make employees available for interviews

25
Responsibilities of Supervisors (contd)
  • Once an investigation has been completed, if
    disciplinary action is to be taken, work with the
    HR Director to make sure that
  • The victim is not adversely affected
  • The religious discrimination stops and does not
    recur
  • In handling requests for religious
    accommodations from your employees, inform the HR
    Director immediately of any request and follow
    the companys procedures

26
Questions? Comments?
27
Summary
  • There are several types of religious issues that
    appear in the workplace
  • Complaints of discrimination (including
    harassment)
  • Requests for religious accommodations and to use
    the employers property for religious practices
    or activities

28
Summary (contd)
  • It is important to prevent religious
    discrimination and provide accommodations when
    possible because the concept and right of freedom
    of religion are highly valued by Americans and
    are protected under the Constitution and federal
    and state laws

29
Summary (contd)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires
    employers to
  • Provide a workplace free from religious
    discrimination (including harassment)
  • Provide a reasonable accommodation for employees
    seriously held religious beliefs unless the
    accommodation would impose an undue hardship on
    the company. (What constitutes reasonable
    accommodation and undue hardship depends on each
    situations facts.)

30
Summary (contd)
  • (Name of company) has a comprehensive policy for
    employees and supervisors that complies with
    federal and state laws and prohibits religious
    discrimination and provides for religious
    accommodations when possible

31
Summary (contd)
  • Types of religious accommodation the company may
    provide include
  • Changes in work schedules
  • Exceptions to dress code and appearance policy
  • Use of company property

32
Summary (contd)
  • Responsibilities of Supervisors regarding
    religious discrimination and accommodations are
    to
  • Know and comply with our policy and procedures
  • Immediately report any complaints or incidents to
    the HR Directors
  • Do not object if an employee prefers or actually
    does bypass the standard chain of command
  • Respond to any employees complaint as soon as
    possible

33
Summary (contd)
  • Responsibilities of Supervisors regarding
    religious discrimination/harassment and
    accommodations are to
  • Not engage in retaliation against an employee who
    complains of religious discrimination/harassment
    or asks for an accommodation
  • Assist with investigations
  • Handle requests for religious accommodations
    strictly in accordance with the companys policy
    and procedures.

34
Questions? Comments?
35
Course Evaluation
  • Please be sure to complete and leave the
    evaluation sheet you received with your handouts.
  • Thank you for your attention and interest!
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