The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently approved updates to its compliance manual section on religious discrimination.

The EEOC said the changes, the first made to the manual in 12 years, “include important updates to the discussion of protections for employees from religious discrimination in the context of reasonable accommodations and harassment.”

The EEOC said the changes describe how Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from religious discrimination in the workplace.

“It also expands the discussion of defenses that may be available to religious employers,” the commission said in a release.

The changes focus on four areas:

  • Coverage issues, including the types of cases that arise, the definition of “religion” and “sincerely held,” the religious organization exemption, and the ministerial exception
  • Employment decisions based on religion, including recruitment, hiring, segregation, promotion, discipline, and compensation, as well as differential treatment with respect to religious expression; customer preference; security requirements; and bona fide occupational qualifications
  • Harassment, including religious belief or practice as a condition of employment or advancement, hostile work environment, and employer liability issues
  • Reasonable accommodation, including notice of the conflict between religion and work where applicable, scope of the accommodation requirement and undue hardship defense, and common methods of accommodation

The EEOC said the changes “reflect recent legal developments and emerging issues.”

There were 2,725 religious complaints in 2019, the last year for which figures are available.

The commission found that 72% of those complaints had no reasonable cause.


For more information, contact CBIA’s Diane Mokriski (860.244.1900) | @HRHotline.