I. Purpose. The purpose of this Employee and Applicant Religious Accommodations Procedure (“Procedure”) is to implement the College’s Religious Accommodation Policy (“Policy”) for College Employees and Applicants.
II. Scope and Applicability
A. This Procedure applies to all Employees and Applicants of the College.
B. Student employees seeking accommodation in the workplace shall follow this Procedure.
A. All capitalized terms in this Procedure have the meanings provided in the Policy.
B. All other capitalized terms in this Procedure have the following meanings:
1. Accommodation Request means a completed Religious Accommodation Request Form.
2. HR means an employee in the Office of Human Resources.
3. Supervisor means the College employee to whom the Employee directly reports or any employee in the Employee’s reporting chain.
4. VP LRM means the Vice President for Learning Resources Management.
IV. Types of Accommodations that May Be Considered
A. An Employee or Applicant who has a sincerely held Religious Belief that conflicts with a workplace requirement, hiring practice, or obtaining access to a Service may be eligible for a Religious Accommodation, based on the circumstances.
B. Examples of Religious Accommodations that may be provided if they do not create an Undue Hardship include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Flexible scheduling;
2. Voluntary substitutes or shift swaps;
3. Change of job tasks;
4. Lateral transfers;
5. Making exceptions to policies, procedures, guidelines, or workplace practices;
6. Making exceptions to dress, grooming, and/or uniform standards;
7. Allowing use of College facilities for Religious Practices and Observances;
8. Making exceptions to certain rules requiring the Employee or Applicant to supply certain forms of identification (e.g., Social Security Numbers);
9. Permitting prayer and other forms of religious expression; and/or
10. Permitting exemption from College-sponsored programs.
C. If a requested Religious Accommodation would impose an Undue Hardship on the College, the College will reasonably accommodate the Employee’s or Applicant’s Religious Belief to the extent that it can do so without causing an Undue Hardship to the College, even though such a Religious Accommodation would be partial in nature.
D. Where there is more than one reasonable Religious Accommodation that would not pose an Undue Hardship, the College is not obligated to provide the Religious Accommodation that is preferred by the Employee or Applicant.
E. To qualify as a Religious Accommodation, a modification or adjustment in work requirements also must not discriminate against the Employee or unnecessarily disadvantage the Employee’s terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
1. An Applicant may request a Religious Accommodation during the hiring process using the procedures described below.
2. No Employee involved in the hiring process may ask an Applicant about their Religious Beliefs or need for a Religious Accommodation until after the Applicant has been offered a position at the College.
V. Accommodation Request
A. An Employee or Applicant who is unable to participate in a work requirement, comply with a hiring practice, or access a Service because it conflicts with the Employee’s or Applicant’s sincerely held Religious Belief must submit an Accommodation Request to HR as soon as the Employee or Applicant is aware of the conflict but no later than ten (10) Business Days in advance of the need for a Religious Accommodation or for an Applicant, at least two (2) Business Days prior to the interview, which can be postponed if necessary to process the Accommodation Request.
B. The Employee or Applicant can obtain a physical form from HR and submit the Accommodation Request to HR, make a request by telephone to HR, or make a request in person at the Office of Human Resources.
C. If the Employee or Applicant does not submit the Accommodation Request by the deadline set forth above, the College’s ability to grant the Accommodation Request may be limited if the work requirement, hiring practice, or Service has taken place prior to the College being able to process the Accommodation Request; however, to the extent that a reasonable extension to allow the Accommodation Request to be processed, HR will grant such extensions.
D. In the Accommodation Request, the Employee or Applicant must describe:
1. The work requirement, hiring practice, or Service at issue;
2. The Employee’s or Applicant’s Religious Belief and how it conflicts with a work requirement or hiring practice or impedes access to a Service; and
3. The specific Religious Accommodation that the Employee or Applicant is seeking.
E. If an Accommodation Request is made to a Supervisor, the Supervisor must forward the request to HR.
F. In the absence of a formal request for a Religious Accommodation, if HR or a Supervisor becomes aware of a conflict between the Employee’s or Applicant’s Religious Belief and a work requirement, the Supervisor must inform HR and HR will consider this information as a request for a Religious Accommodation and follow this Procedure.
G. HR may require the Employee or Applicant to complete the Accommodation Request if the information provided is not sufficient to evaluate the request.
VI. Communications regarding Accommodation Requests
A. All written communications with the Employee and decisions will be sent to the Employee using the Employee’s College-issued email address.
B. All written communication with the Applicant and decisions will be sent to the Applicant using the email address provided in the Applicant’s job application materials submitted to the College.
C. The Employee or Applicant is responsible for responding to communications in a timely manner, and failure to do so may result in the Accommodation Request not being granted prior to the need for the Religious Accommodation.
VII. Evaluation of Accommodation Requests
A. Sincerity of Religious Belief
1. If the Accommodation Request itself does not provide enough information to enable HR to make a determination about the existence of a sincere Religious Belief or HR has a bona fide doubt as to the basis for the Accommodation Request, HR may make a limited inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the Employee’s or Applicant’s claim that the Religious Belief is sincerely held, and that the Religious Belief gives rise to the need for the requested Religious Accommodation.
2. Whether HR has a reasonable basis for seeking to verify the Employee’s or Applicant’s stated Religious Beliefs will depend on the facts of a particular case.
3. While the sincerity of a Religious Belief is largely a matter of individual credibility, HR will consider the following factors:
a. Whether the Employee or Applicant has acted inconsistently with the professed Religious Belief (while recognizing that Employees and Applicants do not have to be scrupulous in their observance of Religious Beliefs, that Religious Beliefs may change over time, and that Religious Practices may deviate from commonly followed tenants of a religion);
b. Whether the Religious Accommodation sought is particularly desirable and likely to be sought for non-religious reasons (e.g., the Employee or Applicant previously made the same request for secular reasons);
c. Whether the timing of the Employee’s or Applicant’s Accommodation Request is suspicious (e.g., a request for an exemption from a work requirement that does not appear to fall close to a Religious Holiday); and/or
d. Whether HR has other reasons to believe the Religious Accommodation is not being sought for religious reasons.
4. If HR determines that the Employee or Applicant does not hold a sincere Religious Belief supporting the Accommodation Request, HR will send a decision to the Employee or Applicant, denying the Accommodation Request and providing the reason(s) for the denial in writing.
5. If HR determines that the Employee or Applicant holds a sincere Religious Belief supporting the Accommodation Request, HR will determine whether the Accommodation Request can be granted in accordance with the next Section.
B. Interactive Dialogue
1. Within ten (10) Business Days of receiving an Accommodation Request, HR will evaluate the Accommodation Request by taking any of the following actions:
a. Requesting that the Employee or Applicant provide additional information about the Accommodation Request, including any possible alternative Religious Accommodations that may meet the Employee’s or Applicant’s needs;
b. Determining whether the Accommodation Request relates to an Essential Function of the Job and if so, whether the Accommodation Request is reasonable;
c. Consulting with the Supervisor or Authorized Employee(s) for a Service about whether the Accommodation Request can be granted without creating an Undue Hardship; and/or
d. Requesting information from other Employee(s) who may have relevant information regarding the Accommodation Request, such as whether similar Accommodation Requests have been granted.
2. If the Supervisor and/or Authorized Employee(s) asserts that the Accommodation Request is not reasonable, a different Religious Accommodation would be preferable, or that granting the Accommodation Request would create an Undue Hardship, HR may offer a different Religious Accommodation to the Employee or Applicant and engage in an interactive dialogue with the Employee or Applicant.
a. If the Employee or Applicant accepts the Religious Accommodation that was offered by HR, HR will send a written decision to the Employee or Applicant, granting the agreed-upon Religious Accommodation.
b. If the Employee or Applicant does not accept the Religious Accommodation that was offered by HR, the Employee or Applicant may offer a different Religious Accommodation for HR to consider, in consultation with the Supervisor and/or Authorized Employee(s) and if accepted, HR will send a written decision to the Employee or Applicant, granting the agreed-upon Religious Accommodation.
c. If HR and the Employee or Applicant cannot reach an agreement on a different Religious Accommodation, HR will consider whether there is an Undue Hardship.
C. Determining the Existence of an Undue Hardship
1. In determining whether an Accommodation Request poses an Undue Hardship, HR will consider the practical and financial impact on the overall resources of the College and the standards or structure of the Service, including but not limited to, the following relevant factors:
a. The type of work requirement, hiring practice, and/or Service for which the Accommodation is requested;
b. The type of workspace, office, or department;
c. The nature of the Employee’s job duties;
d. The number of Employees who will need a particular accommodation;
e. Whether the proposed Religious Accommodation prevents the Employee from performing an Essential Function of a Job;
f. The identifiable cost of the Religious Accommodation in relation to the size and operating costs of the College, which include, but are not limited to:
i. Direct monetary costs that result in substantial increased costs to the College;
ii. Impairment of the safety of the College campus, Employees, Students, and the Service;
iii. Whether the proposed Religious Accommodation conflicts with a law, regulation, policy, procedure, or practice;
iv. Diminished efficiency in other jobs;
v. Infringement on other Employees’ job rights or benefits, Students, or the public that affect the conduct of the College’s business;
vi. Impairment of workplace safety;
vii. Payment of premium wages or administrative costs that result in substantial increased costs to the College;
viii. Hiring of additional employees;
ix. Necessity for co-workers to carry the requesting Employee’s share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work; and/or
x. The impact on College contracts or agreements.
2. Generally, the payment of administrative costs necessary for a Religious Accommodation, such as costs associated with rearranging schedules and recording substitutions for payroll purposes, infrequent or temporary payment of premium wages (e.g., overtime rates) while a more permanent Religious Accommodation is sought, will not constitute substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of the College’s business or result in an Undue Hardship.
3. After considering this information, HR will determine whether an Undue Hardship would be created by granting the Accommodation Request.
D. Determining the Existence of a Fundamental Alteration
1. If HR believes that the Accommodation Request would cause a Fundamental Alteration to a Service, HR will follow the Fundamental Alterations Review Procedure.
a. The Fundamental Alterations Review Committee will make a determination as to whether a Fundamental Alteration would be caused by the granting the Accommodation Request and provide such determination to the HR in accordance with the Fundamental Alterations Review Procedure.
b. The decision of the Fundamental Alterations Review Committee is binding on HR and cannot grieved and may only be appealed as set forth in the Appeals Section below.
E. Decision on Accommodation Request
1. HR will review the information provided by the Employee or Applicant and consultation with the Supervisor, Authorized Employee(s), and other Employee(s).
2. If HR determines that the Accommodation Request is reasonable and does not result in an Undue Hardship, HR will send a written decision to the Employee or Applicant, granting the Religious Accommodation and if necessary to implement the Religious Accommodation, will send a copy to the Supervisor and/or Authorized Employee(s).
3. If HR determines that the Accommodation Request causes an Undue Hardship, HR will determine if there is an alternative way to accommodate the Employee without creating an Undue Hardship and if so, will offer a different Religious Accommodation and engage in an interactive dialogue with the Employee or Applicant.
a. If the Employee or Applicant accepts the Religious Accommodation that was offered by HR, HR will send a written decision to the Employee or Applicant, granting the agreed-upon Religious Accommodation.
b. If the Employee or Applicant does not accept the Religious Accommodation that was offered by HR, HR will send a written decision to the Employee or Applicant, denying the Accommodation request and stating the reasons for denial.
4. Duration of the Religious Accommodation
a. If a Religious Accommodation is granted, the decision will specify an expiration date for the Religious Accommodation, which will generally be granted for the semester or year in which it is requested, depending on the type of Religious Accommodation.
b. A decision to grant a Religious Accommodation applies only to the work requirement, hiring practice, or Service described in the Accommodation Request and does not constitute a policy or universal decision for future Accommodation Requests.
c. To the extent the Employee or Applicant seeks a Religious Accommodation to another work requirement, hiring practice, or Service, the Employee or Applicant is required to submit another Accommodation Request and follow this Procedure.
d. To the extent that the Employee or Applicant seeks the same Religious Accommodation for a time period beyond the expiration date in the decision, the Employee or Applicant must file a request to recertify the Religious Accommodation at least two (2) weeks prior to the expiration date using the Religious Accommodation Request Form and indicating that the Religious Accommodation was previously granted.
5. HR will maintain a copy of the Accommodation Request, any communications with the Employee or Applicant and the written decision to the Employee or Applicant (collectively, the “Accommodation File”), as part of the Employee’s personnel record or Applicant file, for three (3) years after the decision is issued.
VIII. Implementing the Accommodation
A. The Supervisor or Authorized Employee(s) is responsible for implementing any Religious Accommodations granted to the Employee or Applicant.
B. Except as necessary to implement the Religious Accommodations, information regarding the basis for the Religious Accommodation shall be provided only to those Employees who need to know the information to perform their job duties, and will otherwise remain confidential.
C. HR and any Employee responsible for implementing a Religious Accommodation must make every attempt to respect the privacy of the Employee or Applicant when making or implementing a Religious Accommodation (for example, it is not appropriate to announce to an office or department that an Employee or Applicant needs to reschedule a meeting at a later date because of their Religious Belief or for a Religious Holiday).
D. If an approved Religious Accommodation includes time off from a scheduled work day, the Employee may take annual leave for such time off.
IX. Monitoring and Modifying the Religious Accommodation
A. Because circumstances may change, HR, the Supervisor, and/or Authorized Employee(s) should check on the ongoing effectiveness of Religious Accommodations.
B. The most effective way to monitor Religious Accommodations is to encourage ongoing communication with the Employee or Applicant.
C. Religious Accommodations remain in effect through the date included in the written decision, unless the Employee or Applicant is notified by the College of a change in writing.
D. The College has the right to modify or discontinue a previously granted Religious Accommodation if it is no longer being used for religious purposes or if the Religious Accommodation subsequently poses an Undue Hardship on the College.
E. Before modifying or discontinuing a Religious Accommodation, the College will determine if there are alternative Religious Accommodations that would not impose an Undue Hardship on the College.
F. An Employee also has the right the request additional or different Religious Accommodations, as Religious Beliefs may change over time.
A. An Employee or Applicant may appeal a decision made by HR by submitting an Appeal Form in writing to the VP LRM no later than three (3) Business Days after the decision being sent to the Employee or Applicant.
B. The VP LRM will request a copy Accommodation File from HR and review the Appeal Form and Accommodation File.
C. The VP LRM may consult with HR and the Employee or Applicant in reviewing HR’s decision.
D. Within five (5) Business Days, the VP LRM will decide whether to accept, reject, or modify HR’s decision on the Accommodation Request.
E. The VP LRM will send the decision to the Employee or Applicant, and if a Religious Accommodation is granted or modified, will send a copy of the decision to the Faculty Member(s) or Authorized Employee(s).
F. The decision of the Vice President is final and may not be further appealed or grieved pursuant to the Employee Grievance Policy and Procedures.
XI. Deadlines. Any deadlines set forth in this Procedure may be extended for good cause and with notice in writing to the Employee or Applicant.
A. Internal Complaint. If an Employee or Applicant believes that they have been wrongfully denied a Religious Accommodation, have been retaliated against for making an Accommodation Request, and/or otherwise have been subjected to religious discrimination, the Employee or Applicant may file a complaint with the College’s Chief Compliance and Fair Practices Officer in accordance with the College’s Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy and Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures.
B. External Complaint
1. Although Employees and Applicants are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints using the College’s internal complaint procedures set forth above, Employees or Applicants have the right to file a complaint directly with the external agency authorized to accept such complaints or pursue other remedies available to them under state or federal law.
2. Employee or Applicant may file complaints of religious discrimination with the following agencies:
Equal Opportunity Employment Commission
GH Fallon Federal Building
31 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 1432
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (800) 669-4000
Facsimile: (443) 992-7880
TTY: (800) 669-6820
ASL Video Phone: (844) 234-5122
Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
William Donald Schaefer Tower
6 Saint Paul Street, Suite 900
Baltimore, MD 21202-1631
Telephone (Main): (410) 767-8600
Telephone (Toll free): (800) 637-6247
Maryland Relay 7-1-1
Facsimile: (410) 333-1841
Procedure Title: Interim Employee and Applicant Religious Accommodations Procedure
Policy Category: General
Policy Owner: President
Policy Administrator: Executive Director of Human Resources
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org; 410-777-2045
Approval Date: July 12, 2023
Effective Date: July 1, 2023
History: Interim Policy approved on June 28, 2023; Updates to Interim Policy approved on July 12, 2023
Applies to: Employees an Applicants of the College
Related Policies: Religious Accommodations Policy