2J01 Religious Accommodation

The contractor must accommodate the religious observances and practices of its employees and prospective employees unless it can demonstrate that it cannot reasonably accommodate a religious observance or practice without undue hardship on its business.131 In determining the extent of the contractor’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations on religious grounds, COs must consider:

  • Business necessity;
  • Financial costs and expenses; and
  • Resulting personnel problems.

The agency follows Title VII legal principles on religious accommodations.132 COs should note that Title VII standards for religious accommodation are not the same as Section 503 standards for reasonable accommodation. COs must ask the contractor whether and how it has made accommodation to the religious observances and practices of its employees and prospective employees.133 COs must also ask whether the contractor denied any religious accommodation requests. If so, the CO will seek documentation and verification of the reasons for denial and ensure that they were proper. In reviewing employee files, COs must be alert for any pattern of discipline or terminations based on refusal to work on certain days based on religious observances. If the contractor reports that no requests were made, COs must review procedures available for evaluating such requests.

131. See 41 CFR 60-50.3.

132. See Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e(j).

133. See 41 CFR 60-50.3 and http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm (last accessed September 2019).