Christian Employee Lacks Religious Accommodation Claim

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue of accommodations of employees' religious practices.

In Porter v. Chicago, Case No. 11-2006 (7th Cir. Nov. 8, 2012), a Christian data entry clerk at the police department had Fridays and Saturdays off. Due to her religion, the employee requested to have Sundays and Mondays off instead. The employer refused the employee’s request but did offer her the option of working a later shift on Sundays so that she could attend church services. The employee brought suit against the employer alleging that it failed to reasonably accommodate her religious beliefs in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the employee’s claim. The Court held that employers do not have a duty to accommodate an employee’s religion “at all costs.” Instead, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation that “eliminates the conflict between employment requirements and religious practices.” Accordingly, the Court found that the employer satisfied its duty to provide a reasonable accommodation by offering a later Sunday shift to the employee.

This case demonstrates that though employers do not need to provide employees with each and every accommodation they request, employers must still provide a reasonable accommodation to employees who require such an accommodation to practice their religion.

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