On August 16, 2021, Doreen Martin was quoted in USA Today on how employers should field religious exemption requests as mandates for vaccines and masks become more common amid the widespread circulation of the highly transmissible delta variant.
Martin said an employer should presume that a worker's request for a religious accommodation is based on a sincerely held belief. “But if you have some objective, reasonable basis for questioning the sincerity, then you can ask for additional information,” she said. “You don't want to go on a fishing expedition.”
Employers can ask the employee to discuss their beliefs and how they’re followed, and to provide written materials about the tenets of their faith and statements from others who have observed the employee discussing or practicing their beliefs.
Employers are used to dealing with accommodation requests for disabilities and handling that documentation. But assessing religious views is less common. That’s why it’s important, Martin said, for businesses to have a clear, centralized decision-making process that handles requests consistently.
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