Is an employee who requests a religious accommodation protected from retaliation?


Salma, a retail employee, requested to wear a religious headscarf as an exception to her store's new uniform policy. After Joe, the store manager, refused, Salma contacted the human resources department at the corporate headquarters. Despite Joe's objections, the human resources department instructed him that there is no undue hardship and that he must grant the request. Soon afterward, Joe gave Salma an unjustified poor performance rating and denied her request to attend training that he approved for her coworkers. Salma complained of retaliation. Is she right?


Yes. Joe was motivated by retaliation when he gave Salma a poor performance rating and denied her request to attend training that had been approved for other employees. Under Title VII, an employer may not retaliate against an individual who has engaged in protected activity under the statute, including requesting a religious accommodation.

Protected activity may also include opposing a practice the employee reasonably believes is made unlawful by one of the employment discrimination statutes, or filing a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the statute.

Source: EEOC Publication: Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities,, reported in Employment Practices Guide, ¶5397.

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