In the latest of a series of last-minute actions under the Trump administration, the EEOC has issued new standards for enforcing religious discrimination policies that apply in both the federal government and in many private sector companies.
“The revisions to the guidance include important updates to the discussion of protections for employees from religious discrimination in the context of reasonable accommodations and harassment,” some of them reflecting court rulings since the guidance was previously updated in 2008, the EEOC said.
The document says that although religious discrimination is one of the least-often cited types of complaints under the laws it enforces, the numbers have “grown significantly” in the last two decades and that further guidance was needed on “issues that arise from religious diversity as well as the demands of the modern American workplace.”
Topics covered include definitions of what qualifies as a religion, what meets the test that beliefs be sincerely held; what constitutes discrimination in recruitment, hiring and other personnel actions; differential treatment with respect to religious expression; bona fide occupational requirements; harassment; reasonable accommodation in working arrangements; and retaliation.
The guidance was approved on a 3-2 vote of the commission to finalize a document put out for comments two months ago. It follows a recent similar split vote that ended a long-standing policy of automatically allowing official time for federal employees with union roles to represent other employees in EEO cases; and rules stressing conciliation efforts over litigation, among others.