Legal Implications in Human Resource Management

What, specifically and succinctly, are the reasonable accommodation expectations concerning religion and disability that employers must meet under the law?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and employees religious beliefs under Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964, it is the duty of the employer to accommodate qualified individuals who have a disability (Gerhart, 1995). There are no written rules to be followed by employers. However, it is important for the employer to evaluate each individual to determine whether the accommodation provided will impose an undue hardship. This can be done by establishing a proactive and well-educated HR department. Employers will be able to maintain a diverse workforce by understanding the current state of the law. 

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Reasonable accommodation 

When considering employees abled differently reasonable accommodation is required. It refers to hiring based on qualification; in this case, a company has to meet certain demands and cannot discriminate when satisfying these demands. These rules are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which also offers guidance where necessary by the courts. Most of these accommodations are because of the Civil rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990(ADA). Family Leave Act and recently updated ADA (ADA Amendments, 2008).

Disability

An employer is prohibited from treating an employee or applicant unfairly in all spheres of employment like promotions, hiring, training, job assignments, and terminations because they have a disability, have a history of a disability, or the employer considers the employee as having a disability this is according to Title I of the ADA (Gerhart, 1995). ADA prevents an employer from discriminating against qualified disabled individuals that are able to perform all the specified job functions of the position. Under the ADA an individual is termed as a qualified disabled individual when he or she is (1) mentally impaired or limited in at least one major life activity, (2) the impairment is recorded, and (3) the individual should be perceived as impaired. According to the law, a disability is an impairment that is episodic or in remission. 

Religion

Religious discrimination is contradictory in nature where one perspective states that treating employees differently based on their religion is illegal. When making certain workplace decisions, it is important to take into account an employee’s religious beliefs or practices and cannot deny one a requested reasonable decision. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, three things are needed in the prima facie aspect of religious discrimination. (1) the employee has a belief that is in conflict with the job requirement, (2) the employer is informed by the employee, and (3) Disciplinary measures are taken against the employee for not complying with the requirement that is conflicting (Smith, 2006). It is, therefore, the duty of the employee to inform the employer about the bona fide belief and request for accommodation. It is also important to provide the employer with an explanation of the need for religious observation.

From your readings/research (stating employers by name), what are two specific private sector workplace examples of reasonable accommodations – one for religion, and one for disability?

Examples of reasonable accommodations in the workplace include restructuring the individuals’ job, modification of examinations to suit the needs of the affected person, making available interpreters and qualified readers, work schedule modification, and giving proper training to the person. Others include reassigning a current employee, a vacant position if the individual is qualified in case the person assigned the job is unable to do the same because of a disability. There is however no obligation to give the position to an applicant who is not qualified for the same position.

This simply means that an employer is not required to lower the quality or standard of production, neither are they to provide essentials like wheelchairs, hearing aids, and glasses (Walsh, 2015). An appropriate decision on accommodation is based on facts drawn from each case. What matters most is the effectiveness, which determines if the accommodation will provide the person with the disability the same opportunity to achieve an equal level of performance to the person without disabilities. However, accommodation is not aimed at ensuring equal results or benefits. 

Examples of reasonable conditions under religion include religious clothing requirement and giving time off on Sabbath or holy days in case there are no emergencies. However, the rule does not apply to employees in health and safety sectors. An undue hardship may come up due to religious accommodation in case it affects the health risk, security, and genuine safety of coworkers.  

On religion, dress and grooming policies apply. For instance, putting on a head covering or a religious head covering like the hijab and having facial hair and specific hairstyles, for example, the Rastafarian. It is also the duty of the employee to not wear certain garments like pants or miniskirts. Upon a request for reasonable accommodation the employer and employee should have a discussion and if it brings about an undue hardship the employer should grant the accommodation.

References 

Gerhart, P. F. (1995). Employee Privacy Rights in the United States. Comp. Lab. LJ, 17, 175.

Smith, D. M. (2006). The paradox of personality: mental illness, employment discrimination, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Geo. Mason UCRLJ, 17, 79.Walsh, D. J. (2015). Employment law for human resource practice. Nelson Education

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