EEOC Updates Compliance Manual Section on Religious Discrimination

July 23, 2008 ( - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new Compliance Manual Section regarding workplace discrimination on the basis of religion.

An EEOC announcement said the Section includes a comprehensive review of the relevant provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the EEOC’s policies regarding religious discrimination, harassment, and accommodation. The EEOC also issued a companion question-and-answer fact sheet and best practices booklet.

The section and question-and-answer fact sheet address what constitutes “religion” within the meaning of Title VII; disparate treatment based on religion; the requirement to reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and practices; religion-based harassment; and retaliation. The Section also provides guidance on some complex workplace issues involved in balancing employees’ rights regarding religious expression with employers’ need to maintain efficient, productive workplaces.

The EEOC said it issued the section in response to an increase in charges of religious discrimination, increased religious diversity in the United States, and requests for guidance from stakeholders and agency personnel investigating and litigating claims of religious discrimination.

According to the announcement, religious discrimination charge filings with the EEOC nationwide have risen substantially over the past 15 years, doubling from 1,388 in Fiscal Year 1992 to a record level of 2,880 in FY 2007.

The new compliance manual section is here .

The question-and-answer fact sheet is here .

The best practices booklet is here .