Transcript: Episode 131 – Workplace Religious Accommodations in the Age of COVID-19 (SHRM Credit)
December 6, 2021
Transcript: Episode 132 – How to Win High-Consequence Conversations (SHRM Credit)
December 20, 2021

Click here for a full transcript of the episode.

In episode 131 of “The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast,” JoDee and Susan discuss religious accommodations and religious exemptions for vaccine mandates with Kayla Ernst, an Associate in Ice Miller’s Labor and Employment Group.

Many business leaders and HR professionals are uncertain about religious accommodations as it relates to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. What counts as a religious exemption? What doesn’t count? How should we handle requests for religious exemptions that keep coming in? Kayla Ernst joins our hosts to answer these questions and more.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers most employers and prohibits employment discrimination based on religion. The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees whose sincerely held religious belief or practice conflicts with a work requirement, unless providing the accommodation would create an undue hardship for the employer. The definition of religion under Title VII is broad, and the EEOC’s position is that employers should ordinarily assume that the request is based in a sincerely held belief, but if the employer has an objective basis for questioning it, they can ask for more information.

There are several religious accommodations employees might seek, but the most contemporary example would be seeking an exemption from an employer’s mandatory vaccine policy. The EEOC has issued guidance on how employers should address these types of requests, including providing employees with information on who to contact and how to request an accommodation. Some employers even have a standard form that employees can fill out to request a religious accommodation.

In this episode’s listener mail, a job seeker asks whether they really need to be careful about what they post online. In the news, a survey conducted by YouGov reported that 11% of people polled would rather run naked through the office than let coworkers know what they earn.

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Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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