May an employer deny an employee's request to wear a religious head covering if it interferes with employee safety?

Author: Jill Gormley, Strong and Clear Communications

Yes. An employer may deny an employee's request to wear a religious head covering if it interferes with an employee's safety. For example, an employer has legitimate grounds to deny an employee's request to wear a scarf that may get caught in machinery and present a danger to the employee. However, the employer should make every effort to engage in the interactive process with the employee and try to accommodate the employee's request while also addressing the safety issue. For example, if hard hats are required in the workplace, the employer should consider whether the employee could wear the religious head covering under the hard hat.