With the holiday season in full swing, many people look forward to a certain amount of time off with family. However, in a diverse workforce, there is an excellent chance that the religious holiday you would like to take is one your boss may know next to nothing about. What do you do?
The Fair Employment And Housing Act provides protections
The Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA) seeks to curb discrimination across California in any category and lists l7 separate classes, including:
- Religious creed
- Physical or mental disability
- Sex, gender identity or gender expression
- Military status of any person
As protected classes, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to the needs of any person of these classes. This means that those seeking accommodation for a religious holiday may do so, but there may be some drawbacks.
FEHA only requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees with sincerely held beliefs. Naturally, this dictate suggests two important questions:
What is a sincerely held belief?
The law defines a belief as one that is either traditionally recognized or one that occupies a personal importance parallel to that of a traditionally recognized belief. This covers virtually any religious belief of any creed.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation would be one that works for the employee but does not create a hardship for the company. There are some theoretical cases where a company may make the argument that a day off is “not reasonable.”
At most levels, there is no reason to question the sincerity of a person’s stated belief. In fact, questioning sincerity may be discriminatory in most cases. Additionally, a day off here or there is difficult to argue as “a hardship” to most businesses. Still, many people face frequent challenges to their religious liberty.
If your employer undermines holidays or religious practice, you have every right to find advocacy for yourself to practice how you wish.