Does an employer have to accommodate an employee's request not to work on the Sabbath?

Author: Jill Gormley, Strong and Clear Communications

Yes. An employer must make an effort to accommodate employee requests for schedule changes based on religious observance for those employees with sincerely held religious beliefs. However, if there is a business reason for requiring employees to work the Sabbath and exempting employees from this requirement would create an undue burden on the employer, the employer may be justified in denying the accommodation request.

An employer should attempt to accommodate the request even if it means requiring the employee to work extra hours on non-Sabbath days in order to be fair to other employees and to fulfill the employer's needs. In addition, if the requirement to work the Sabbath was a condition of employment that the employee was aware of prior to accepting employment and the employee is only first making the request, the employer should investigate whether the employee's beliefs are sincerely held. If the employer finds that the employee is making the request for the secular reason of wanting the weekend off, the employer may deny the request.