Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of religion and, under EEOC guidelines, employers are obligated to accommodate an employee’s religious needs once the employer has been notified of the need, as long as that accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer. You should encourage the supervisor to work closely with the employees to find an appropriate accommodation for their religious needs. Whether a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship, and therefore not be required, depends on the particulars of the business and the requested accommodation.
When the room is needed for business purposes, your company can deny its use for personal religious purposes. However, allowing the employees to use the team meeting room for prayer likely would not impose an undue hardship on your company in many other circumstances.
Similarly, prayer often can be performed during breaks, so providing sufficient time during work hours for prayer would not result in an undue hardship. If going to the team meeting room for prayer takes longer than the allotted break periods, the employees still can be accommodated if the nature of the department’s work makes flexible scheduling feasible.
In evaluating undue hardship, consider only whether you can accommodate the employees who made the request. Because individual religious practices vary among members of the same religion, your company should not deny a requested accommodation based on speculation that the other Muslim employees may seek the same accommodation. If other employees subsequently request the same accommodation and granting it to all of the requesters would cause an undue hardship, your company can make an appropriate adjustment at that time. For example, if accommodating seven employees would not cause an undue hardship but accommodating nine would impose such hardship, the ninth request could be denied.
Source: EEOC’s “Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace,” and “Best Practices for Eradicating Religious Discrimination in the Workplace,” reported in the CCH Employment Practices Guide, New Developments ¶5278 and ¶5279.