Religious Accommodation At School, College and Work

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With Ramadan upon us, Muslim Advocates has put together templates for you to use when requesting religious accommodations for Ramadan or Eid from your college or school. While we did not include a template for you to request an accommodation for daily prayers or to attend Jumma (Friday) prayer, you can tailor the attachment to such requests. We also provided a best practices list on how to request religious accommodations from your employer.

Accommodation means providing resources to meet a need. In this context, religious accommodation means reaching an agreement with your employer, college or school that enables you to practice your religious beliefs in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with your employment or education.

Federal, state and local laws protect the right to practice one’s religion in the workplace and at school. However, the right to religious accommodations is not absolute. It is determined by several factors, including, but not limited to, whether the place of employment or study is a public or private institution, the number of employees or students present, the nature of your job or education and the financial capacity of your employer or school.

Regardless of your circumstances, you can always ask for reasonable accommodation, and you can do so alongside your colleagues or classmates.

Under federal law, you are protected against religious discrimination at public schools and colleges and federally-fund private institutions under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution also secures your right to religious liberty.

At the workplace, Title VII protects you against religious discrimination.

You should also consult your state and local laws for additional rules and regulations on religious accommodation. 

Learn more about your rights to religious accommodation via our info sheets and save them for future reference. 

When requesting individual accommodations or organizing a collective appeal, you might be worried about harassment or retaliation. Schools, colleges and employers are responsible for promoting a harassment-free environment, investigating allegations of harassment and remedying any findings of harassment targeting a protected group, such as a faith community.

This responsibility doesn’t guarantee freedom from harassment or retaliation, but it means if you go to court, a judge can hold your employer, school or college accountable.

If you, or your dependent, believe you were discriminated against because of your religion at school or college, you should seek legal assistance. You can also file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights or the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

If you, or your dependent, believe you were discriminated against because of your religion at work, you should seek legal assistance. You can also file a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Many states and municipalities have similar agencies where you can also file a complaint.  Be advised that there are strict time limits for filing such complaints.     

If you would like to learn more about your rights, including your right to religious accommodation, or if you are unsure how to proceed if your religious accommodation request was denied, you can talk to our attorneys. Reach out to us via email at [email protected] or leave us a message at (202) 897-2622 letting us know that you have a question or issue relating to religious accommodations, and one of our attorneys will call you back within 48-hours.