Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statistics show that religious discrimination complaints in workplace settings have more than doubled from a little over a decade ago, resulting in roughly $10 million in settlements. Last year, nearly 3,800 were filed.
“Religion has increasingly moved into the private sphere, so when it does pop up in the workplace, we’re less equipped to deal with it in a rational and even-handed manner,” said John Gordon, chairman of the religion department at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio.
Many of the complaints from employees involve wearing head garb or those who say they work for companies that refuse to accommodate their requests for religious days off.
Cynthia Stankiewicz, enforcement manager for the EEOC Cleveland field office, said not allowing time off for religious observances is a common issue. She said many cases come about when employers aren’t aware of employees’ rights or when employers don’t attempt to accommodate requests that do not pose a hardship on the business.