One of the biggest issues is religious accommodation. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion, employers are required to accommodate employees’ religious needs, as long as it doesn’t cause “undue hardship” to the company or other employees.

Common requests include time off to pray, attend religious services or observe religious holidays. Dress and appearance is another issue, especially in jobs that require the wearing of a uniform.

While some requests are simple to accommodate, others can be tricky. Even if a lawsuit isn’t filed, disputes can be painful. For example, in 2005, 30 Muslim workers made the news when they walked away from their jobs at Dell Inc.’s Nashville, Tenn., plant, saying they weren’t being granted time off to pray at sunset. A month later, the workers, who were packaging computers through a temporary labor agency, were reinstated, given back pay and granted an accommodation.

Amina Rubin, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which advocated for the workers in the Dell case, says time off for daily prayers is a commonly requested accommodation for Muslims, who are required to pray five times a day.


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