Accommodating religion

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.(RNS) A fashionista teen wears her headscarf to an Abercrombie & Fitch interview and doesn't get the job.Now her religious freedom case is the Supreme Court's to decide.Several hundred people demonstrated their support for County Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky as she spent her third day in jail on contempt charges.

If the employees can be accommodated in a way that would let the job still get done without much burden on the employer, coworkers, and customers — for instance by switching the employee’s assignments with another employee or by otherwise slightly changing the job duties — then the employer must accommodate them.

(The Muslim flight attendant I mentioned above, for instance, claims that she has always been able to work out arrangements under which the other flight attendant serves the alcohol instead of her.) Thus, for instance, in all the cases I mentioned in the numbered list above, the religious objectors got an accommodation, whether in court or as a result of the employer’s settling a lawsuit brought by the EEOC.

Likewise, the EEOC is currently litigating a case in which it claims that a trucking company must accommodate a Muslim employee’s religious objections to transporting alcohol, and the court has indeed concluded that the employer had a duty to accommodate such objections.

But if the accommodation would have been quite difficult or expensive (beyond the inevitable cost that always come when rearranging tasks), then the employer wouldn’t have had to provide it.

(AP) Can your religion legally excuse you from doing part of your job?

This is one of the questions in the Kentucky County Clerk marriage certificate case.But it also arises in lots of other cases — for instance, the Muslim flight attendant who doesn’t want to serve alcohol and who filed a complaint on Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the airline’s denial of an exemption.The question has also arisen before with regard to: Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, both public and private employers have a duty to exempt religious employees from generally applicable work rules, so long as this won’t create an “undue hardship,” meaning more than a modest cost, on the employer.Now I’m not saying this to praise the law, or to claim that it’s demanded by vital principles of religious freedom.One can certainly argue against this approach, especially as applied to private employers, but also as applied to the government.The government is barred by the Free Exercise Clause from discriminating based on religion, but the government has no constitutional duty to give religious objectors special exemptions from generally applicable rules.