Religion and the Workplace: Examining a Model to Mitigate Discrimination

By Boyd, Raphael O.; Carden, Lila L. et al. | Southern Journal of Business and Ethics, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Religion and the Workplace: Examining a Model to Mitigate Discrimination


Boyd, Raphael O., Carden, Lila L., Valenti, M. Alix, Southern Journal of Business and Ethics


I.Introduction

"As workplaces continue to become more diverse, religion is becoming a significant workplace issue."

Society for Human Resource Management, 2016

In today's diverse and complex workplace, providing a tolerant and productive work environment where discrimination against various religious beliefs and practices are significantly reduced or minimized can be difficult and challenging (Religion in the workplace, 2016). Notwithstanding the reason, employers may have work environments which contain certain behaviors which may allow religious discrimination to exist (Religion in the workplace, 2016). Accordingly, the religious diversity which exists in the general public is clearly in the workplace (Flake, 2016).

The united states, through its many growth periods, has obtained solid experience in working with religious issues. in particular, a number of scholars have noted that the manner in which the religious employee is treated in the work world is a standard for how religion should be treated in the general community (Likins, 2011). However, although noteworthy, the challenges pertaining to religion in the workplace still persist. Therefore, it stands to reason that the treatment of the expression of legally protected religious rights by employees in the workplace has to be noted in conjunction with employer corporate requirements (Likins, 2011). Further, the majority of legal structures required to address issues pertaining to religion are forced to confront questions about religion constantly in the area of labor law and other areas. The increased allegations pertaining to legally protected religious rights in the workplace have, interestingly enough, been noted by political and legal pundits. in fact, it was noted that "religion seems to be the hound from which we can never flee" (Likins, 2011, p. 111). As a result, if this issue is not properly addressed, it is possible to reason that workplace productivity and overall employee interactions may be negatively affected.

In order to address this issue and provide for a more harmonious work environment, the authors will provide information pertaining to religious discrimination in the workplace as well as present a model to mitigate religious discrimination. This article will proceed with part II discussing the background, part III will discuss the business ethics foundation and a model to reduce religious discrimination, part IV will discuss the managing activities of the religion discrimination model, and part V will discuss the conclusion.

II.Background

The United States has a long and impactful history in dealing with religion as a societal and political endeavor. Initially, an organization's religious beliefs were required to be based on a deity to be considered a religion by the United States Supreme Court (Likins, 2011). However, after the establishment of Title VII, this narrow view was expanded.

In addressing this complex issue of religion in the workplace, Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its amendments (Clarkson, Miller, Cross, 2014). As a federal law, it "prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and gender at any stage of employment" (Clarkson, Miller, & Cross, 2014, p. 505). "Title VII applies to employers with fifteen or more employees, labor unions with fifteen or more employees, labor unions with fifteen or more members, labor unions that operate hiring halls....and employment agencies"(Clarkson, Miller, & Cross, 2014, p. 505). However, as noted by the United States Supreme Court, an employer is not guaranteed definite protection and freedom from a lawsuit sought under Title VII just because this employer has less than fifteen employees.

The EEOC adopted guidelines in 1967 that required reasonable accommodation by employers, but courts did not impose an affirmative duty on employers to accommodate religious beliefs (Pattison, Sanders & Ross, 2014) In 1972 an amendment to the Civil Rights Act was adopted which included a requirement of accommodation as part of the religious discrimination provision (42 U. …

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