Lockstep Religious Accommodation Requests

Posted by Kevin Koc | Oct 08, 2021 | 0 Comments

When an employee is faced with a workplace rule that, in effect, requires him or her to violate a deeply held belief (e.g. religious or spiritual belief), that employee may need to seek a religious-exemption accommodation from his or her employer. In fact, it may be advisable to seek those accommodations in lockstep (i.e. using the same form with the same language stating your belief that "such and such is evil" for example) with other like-minded coworkers. Because often, those same beliefs are held by more than one person, and therefore multiple individuals may seek the same exemption. And when a group signs off on the same articulated basis of belief for an accommodation, an employer is put in a position to evaluate the request as a whole for the group, and less likely to pinpoint and single out the sincerity of a particular employee's articulated belief. By moving forward as a group, it is also more likely that an employer will utilize a centralized decision process in which, if it denies the request of one group member, it will have to deny the request of the entire group. If that happens, and a lawsuit needs to be filed, you may have the opportunity to move forward in a group, if not as a class action which creates some efficiency and cost reduction and cost sharing for those injured by a wrongfully denied religious accommodation.

Thus there is hope for employees who wish to maintain and stand upon a sincerely held religious belief, and there may be benefits gained in standing together as a group, as Benjamin Franklin was reputed to have said "we must all hang together, or ... we shall all hang separately".

About the Author

Kevin Koc

Kevin Koc has practiced employment law in Kansas and Missouri for over 15 years and has been a part of several successful jury trials and federal appeals. Prior to becoming an attorney he worked in the Human Resources field where he gained a practical understanding about how the day to day work life of employees is impacted by employment laws.

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