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Is there any instance in which an employer can deny

Customer Question
Is there any instance...

Is there any instance in which an employer can deny employment to an applicant who requests every Saturday off work for religious reasons?

Lawyer's Assistant: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

I am an HR professional. The company I work for hasn't made a practice to make any religious accommodations in the past. We now have an applicant asking for every Saturday off work. We can only allow 10% of the employees on that shift off work at one time to still be able to meet customer demands. This would immediately limit the number of employees who could request the weekend off.

Lawyer's Assistant: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?

No union. Yes, we are an at will employer.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Again, this is an applicant.

Submitted: 30 days ago.Category: Employment Law
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3/21/2018
Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 30 days ago
Patrick, Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,874
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Verified

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** it will be my pleasure to answer your question.

An employer is only required to offer "reasonable" religious accommodations. So, if the employer can show that they would suffer "undue hardship" (defined as significant difficulty or expense) as the result of satisfying an accommodation request, the accommodation request need not be granted. Also, an employee is not entitled to the entire day off to attend a religious service unless the religious service spans the entire day. Otherwise, the employee is only entitled to enough time off so that they can actually attend the service itself. In most cases this is just 2-3 hours at the most. An employee is not entitled to the whole day off simply because that is what they would prefer, or out of convenience to them.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

* Disclaimer *

Just Answer is a venue for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed by these communications.

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Customer reply replied 30 days ago
This is not about attending a religious service. It is about observing the Sabbath.
Is there any instance in which an employer can require applicants who want to work there to be available to work certain days/shifts?
Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 30 days ago

Thank you for clarifying.

If not working on Saturday is part of the employee's sincerely ***** ***** beliefs, then the employer must accommodate unless they can show undue hardship. So, to answer your specific question directly: "Is there any instance in which an employer can require applicants who want to work there to be available to work certain days/shifts?

YES. If the employer can show undue hardship, defined as significant difficulty or expense in granting the request, then the request can be denied.

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Customer reply replied 30 days ago
Thank you.
Does limiting other employees from being able to request Saturdays off work a factor at all?
What if we are able to grant a limited number of requests without it creating an undue hardship - do we just grant those requests and then tell other employees no because we can't have that many people off work at one time and still meet business needs?
Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 30 days ago

That's a tough one but I would think it probably does not qualify as a significant difficulty or expense for your business. It's an inconvenience for other employees, but that is not the same thing. As to your second question, yes, you would grant the religious employee's request and then tell the other employees no. They may not like it, but that doesn't change your legal obligation unfortunately.

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Customer reply replied 30 days ago
I found a case in which it states that it would be considered an undue hardship to require other employees to work in the employee's place if you grant an accommodation (but, of course, it would not apply if someone volunteers to take the shift). I know it's a bit of a stretch because it's not the same thing but it would definitely impact other employees negatively. Ugh.Thank you!
Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 30 days ago

I hear what you are saying. Keep in mind that each case is decided on its own facts so while it might have created undue hardship there, it's not a guarantee that the same finding would result in a hypothetical lawsuit on your facts. It's certainly a good sign, though.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service (using the stars at the top of the page) so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Very best wishes.

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