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Employers are familiar with “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).“Reasonable accommodations” for religious issues is somewhat different under the discrimination laws.For example, suppose an employee’s religion requires that he or she wear particular clothes that are considered hazardous if worn near moving equipment or machinery.Unless there is another type of clothing that would meet the employee’s religious needs, permitting the employee to work in those clothes may be an undue hardship because of legitimate safety rules or regulations.
If an employee has a visible tattoo that appears to be a religious insignia, it would be appropriate to ask the employee whether he or she is permitted to cover the tattoo at work. But if the religious belief or practices prohibits covering the tattoo, the employer may need to allow an exception to the policy.Accommodations are usually handled easily but there are some significant mistakes you can make without intending that result.Barrie Gross is former Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel (Employment Law) for an international Fortune 1000 company and is a regular contributor to All No accommodation is required, however, if it would impose an undue hardship.And again, undue hardship is a familiar term from the Americans with Disabilities Act but it is applied differently in the context of religious issues. For example, an employee who is prohibited by religious practice from working on the Sabbath may be given an alternative schedule.