Q:I have a couple of employees who just started using religious expressions (e.g., “God bless” and “Your friend in God”) in their e-mails. Another employee is offended by the e-mails and wants me to make them stop. Any words of wisdom?
A: In addition to prohibiting religious discrimination in the workplace, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposes an affirmative duty to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of your employees unless doing so constitutes harassment or poses an undue hardship on your business. Of course, you have the right to prohibit religious proselytizing in the workplace. However, simply signing e-mails with “God bless” or “Your friend in God,” while objectionable to some, doesn’t meet the definition of proselytizing or forcing a religious belief on others. Furthermore, undue hardship requires more than just proof that some workers complained of religious expressions in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds that undue hardship requires evidence that an individual’s religious expression was so severe and pervasive that it infringed on the rights of coworkers or caused a disruption of work.