Anti-discrimination laws require employers to accommodate their employees' religious beliefs. However, this only applies to employees who are sincere in their religious beliefs. As an employee, you may have to deal with this issue (the sincerity of your religious beliefs) if you request for an exception to the usual rules in your workplace. Here are some of the factors the court may use to determine whether or not you are sincere in your religious beliefs:
Consistency of Behavior
You are only considered as sincere if you are consistent with the values and requirements of your processed belief. Therefore, the court will examine your past behavior to determine whether you have been consistent or not. Consider an example in which your professed religion requires you not to work on a certain day of the week, abstain from certain foods, and avoid certain clothes. The court may view your behavior as inconsistent if it can prove that you have eaten the foods in the past and regularly went to work on the prohibited days when you wanted overtime pay.
The Timing of the Request
Your employer (and the court) may also suspect you of insincerity if your timing is suspect. Your timing may be suspect if you make the religious-backed request soon after your employer denies a similar request for a different reason. The reasoning is that if you were sincere, then you would have mentioned the religious issue in the first request. An example will suffice.
Consider a case where you approach your employer for a day off because you want to visit your sick grandparent in another state. Also, assume that your employer declines your request because there is a lot of work to be done, and your colleague who may have taken your place is sick. A few hours later, you return to your employer and ask for an off on the same day, claiming that your church doesn't allow you to work on that day. This second request is clearly suspect.
Alternative Reasons for the Request
Lastly, your sincerity may also be questioned if the employer suspects other reasons for making the request. There are many reasons the employer may suspect this; it is up to the court to determine whether they are genuine.
Consider an example where you are working part time and attending college part time. You join a sorority, and your employer knows this, which requires you to have tattoos on a visible part of your body. Unfortunately, your workplace's code of ethics and dressing requires you not to have visible tattoos. If you use religion to request your employer to allow you work with tattoos, the employer may think that your request is meant to appease your sorority.
Discrimination laws tend to be very complicated, so it's best to approach them with the help of a lawyer like Miller Law LLC. It's only a lawyer who can help you understand whether you have a strong or weak case of discrimination.