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Has religion caused you to reach an impasse with your boss?

You were looking forward to working with the new manager hired to head up your department at work. However, you immediately ran into problems of a religious nature.

The new manager wants to reassign you to a position where you do not have to work with the public. You believe this is because you wear a headscarf that is indicative of your religious beliefs. What can you do?

A little history

Changes happen all the time in companies, but sometimes they are completely unexpected. You have been with the same company for five years, but you are the only Muslim employee. This did not matter until the new manager came in. You enjoy working with the public; people seemed to value your willingness to assist and some have even commented on your pleasant personality. You do not want to move to another position where interaction with the public is cut off.

Making reasonable accommodation

It is unlawful for a business to discriminate against an employee or potential employee in any way. This includes job segregation based on attire, such as your headscarf. In other words, your boss cannot assign you to another department because he fears your Muslim religion may offend customers. Instead, he must provide reasonable accommodation with respect to your religious beliefs unless it causes undue hardship for the company.

Bringing up undue hardship

When your boss approached you with the idea of reassignment, you told him you preferred to keep your current job. He replied that in doing so, you might create undue hardship for the company. However, hardship would mean causing more expense for the company, compromising workplace safety, decreasing efficiency, infringing upon the rights of other employees or creating more work for them, none of which would apply in this case.

Next steps

Take notes about the interaction with your boss. Keep any emails or correspondence you receive about the proposed reassignment. Your next step would be to take this matter to either the HR department or a senior manager and lay out your concerns about religious discrimination. Keep in mind that you have rights under the law and legal options if you do not get satisfaction from management or HR personnel.

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