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EEOC Guidelines Related to Religious Dress and Grooming

The EEOC guidelines list numerous prohibitions related to religious dress and grooming:

  1. 1.Require an employee to cover their religious garb, marking or article of faith, if doing that would violate the employee’s religious garb.
  2. 2.Assign an applicant or move an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.
  3. 3.Segregate an employee due to fear that customers will have a negative response to religious garb or grooming.

Employers should take note that the EEOC will be stepping up their efforts to police religious dress and grooming in the workplace.  Employers should also expect that lawsuits based on “failure to accommodate” religious dress and grooming standards.

Employers should train managers and supervisors to be sensitive to dress and grooming issues.   Those of you who are using the “SHADES of Harassment” workbooks and materials will have already focused on this issue.  Supervisors and managers should be educated that disgruntled co-workers or customer preferences regarding religious beliefs and practices are NOT lawful reasons for making employment decisions.  Once an employer becomes aware of the need for an accommodation, whether by formal request, or by observing the employee, they should assess each situation, and make exceptions to the dress code policy and other policies, whenever possible. 

Those of you who would like to learn how we address religious grooming requirements in the SHADES of Harassment training, can join us for a free preview on the morning of September 28th, which is a religious holiday.   We will release you prior to noon so that you can observe and practice.