Many residents of Washington, D.C., practice a religion, a freedom that is a pillar of the United States Constitution. Accordingly, many residents of Washington, D.C., strive to adhere to their religious tenets, whether they are at home or at work. Because of this, the District of Columbia Code protects workers from discrimination in the workplace based on religion.
One specific provision against religious discrimination in the code states that an employer must provide reasonable accommodations for workers to reschedule time taken off of work due to the worker's participation in a religious observance. The exception to this is if such accommodations would unduly hard on the employer, going above and beyond de minimis costs. In general, the employer bears the burden of proving undue hardship except under certain circumstances regarding the number of workers in the workplace or the amount of time the worker needs to take off.
The code provides some examples as to what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. For example, letting an worker reschedule time taken off work to their break times or lunch hour may be a reasonable accommodation. Allowing the worker to work outside his or her regularly scheduled hours, or either prior to or after the customary hours of the workplace may also be reasonable accommodations. In addition, employers may allow workers to switch shifts with another worker, so that they can practice a religious observance. Another example of a reasonable accommodation is to allow the worker to utilize vacation time to make up work lost. Finally, the worker and employer can agree upon a reasonable accommodation on their own.
This is only a very brief overview of the laws regarding religious discrimination in the workplace. Since this post is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney, workers who need more information about the circumstances in which they must provided with a reasonable accommodation for their religious beliefs, or employees who believe their right against religious discrimination has been violated should seek the help they need to further understand the laws and how they apply to their individual situation.