Religious discrimination can arise in a variety of circumstances. For example, just recently, we posted about a religious-discrimination claim filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), on behalf of four Rastafarians who had been disciplined for their dreadlocks. In another, fairly unusual, claim of religious discrimination, the issue isn’t hair-style choices, though. This time, the problem is with short shorts.
But not with an employee wearing one. Instead, the EEOC claims, an employee at St. Louis clothing store, Hollister Co., was terminated when she refused to wear pants or skirts the didn’t cover the knee. She stated a religious objection to the required uniform on the ground that her Pentecostal faith prohibited such attire.
Apparently, though, the employee had no such religious objection at the time she was hired.
And, although this point is certainly relevant from the perspective of truth-seeker, it’s not so relevant when it comes to determining whether religious discrimination occurred. An employee need not explained what caused him or her to alter conduct based on religious views–or to change their religious views, for that matter. If faced with a request for a religious accommodation, it does not behoove an employer to start “throwing stones” as it were.
Instead, unless it is an absolutely obvious contradiction of the employee’s otherwise-professed lifestyle, you are best advised to take the employee’s word on it. Just assume that they do hold a sincere religious belief about the issue and focus, instead, on the viability of the request.
**The irony in this claim can’t go unnoticed by the Human Resource generalists in the world who spend such an inordinate amount of energy working towards eradicating short shorts in the workplace, which, I am certain, many would argue is a religious mission in its own right. Of course, the NYT, this summer, published an article claiming that the “man-short” (pictured above), was making its way to the “acceptable attire” list in corporate America. Let me know how that works out.**
Previous posts on religious discrimination and dress codes include: