Saturday, January 8, 2011

Should religious beliefs be entertained at work? I’ve mentioned in the past that more killing and wars have taken place in the interest of religious beliefs and the constant struggles over “holy land” and that the world would be a better place if all society would simply take a lesson from Greek Mythology and worship Gods that represent the good natural resources of the earth like the son, sea, plants and animals and simply be thankful for each other. Well, since there has been an increase in the number of Muslims in America, employers are being stresses to have compliance with their religious needs at the workplace.
It is tough to be a Muslim. This religion is high maintenance. You don’t just go to Church for one hour a week. Muslims have to pray FIVE times a day. Who has any time to do any work? On Fridays, male Muslims are also expected to perform a midday prayer communally, which is accompanied by a sermon. Together, the prayer and sermon might take 30 minutes.
The times at which prayers are held during the day is based on the position of the sun. Therefore, in Northern latitudes( where the length of the day varies significantly with the seasons) the timing of prayer varies throughout the year-a schedule complicated by Daylight Savings Time. I’m not sure this religion’s rules were thinking of a global economy. They must have been designed when travel was limited thousands of years ago to living in the middle east only. Similarly, when we all said we’ll marry till death due us part we were talking about a life expectancy of about 40-50 years not the current 75-90 years.
Many companies are complying with scheduled breaks to accommodate the religious practices going further and providing their employees with a “prayer room “as well. The problem is that the amount of paid break time for Muslim employees on a yearly basis amount to five weeks of extra pay. So, it didn’t take long before other non Muslims complained. A class action suit recently was filed from the employees of the Hertz Corporation seeking equal break time. The class action was based on the claim that a benefit provided to the Muslim employees was not made available to non-Muslim employees. This mess reminds me of the squabbles smokers vs. non-smokers fought about with their break time.
Ultimately in dealing with issues of religious accommodation, employers are not required to provide the accommodation requested by the employee or even the most reasonable accommodation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of religion and require that employers reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of employees as long as such accommodation does not create an “undue hardship” for the employer. All this simply keeps the courts busier than ever. Forget all employees and have some robots and super computers do all the work. God Bless. Who ever that may be.

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