Religious Accommodation for Applicants and Employees

Handbook of Operating Procedures 3-3012

Religious Accommodation for Applicants and Employees

University of Texas SealEffective October 18, 2016
Executive Sponsor: Vice President for Diversity and Community EngagementPolicy Owner: OIE-Associate Vice President; Equal Opportunity Coordinator
I. Policy Statement 

The University of Texas at Austin ("University") is strengthened by its global and multicultural character and is committed to diversity and equal opportunity in employment and education. This commitment includes embracing religious diversity and cultivating a community of inclusion and respect. The University prohibits discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on religious beliefs, practices, and affiliation. In addition, the University provides accommodation for an individual’s sincerely held religious beliefs and practices unless providing an accommodation would result in undue hardship to the University, including undermining the University’s core values of integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.

II. Reason for Policy 

To set forth the University’s policy and procedures regarding religious accommodations for employees and applicants for employment.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to all University employees and applicants for employment.

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 
Reasonable Accommodation:

An accommodation that does not create an undue hardship to the University.

Religious Accommodation:

A modification or adjustment to the work environment or the application process that allows an applicant for employment or an employee to practice his or her religious beliefs.

Religious Belief or Practice:

A belief, practice, or observance that includes moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, that is sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views, even if no religious group espouses such beliefs, or the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief. Social, political, or economic philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not religious beliefs or practices.

Undue Hardship:

An accommodation, considering the totality of the circumstances that would impose more than a minimal cost or burden on the University. Generally, an accommodation will be considered an undue hardship it if will result in the inability of the employee to perform an essential function of his or her position.

V. Website (for policy) 
https://policies.utexas.edu/policies/hop/3-3012
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Office for Inclusion and Equity (“OIE”)Phone:512-471-1849Website:Email:oie@austin.utexas.edu
Human Resources - Strategic Workforce Solutions ("SWS")Phone:512-475-7200, 512-232-3523Website:Email:hrs.sws@austin.utexas.edu
Employee Assistance Program ("EAP")Phone:512-471-3366Website:Email:eap@austin.utexas.edu
Departmental HR Contact LookupWebsite:
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 
  1. Overview

The Religious Accommodation Procedure and Practice Guide provides information regarding individual and supervisory responsibilities, and clarifies implementation of this policy.

 

  1. Responsibilities 
  1. Employees must initiate a request for religious accommodation through their immediate supervisor with as much advanced notice as possible.
  1. Applicants for employment must initiate a request for religious accommodation by contacting Human Resources – Strategic Workforce Solutions ("SWS") at the contact information listed in this policy (VI. Contacts).
  1. Senior managers/supervisors (e.g., department chairs, director-level supervisors or equivalent managers) will evaluate the request and determine whether the requested accommodation is a reasonable accommodation. Religious accommodation requests that are determined to be reasonable accommodations will be approved.
  1. The Office for Inclusion and Equity ("OIE") facilitates the process between the requestor and applicable management to determine if the religious accommodation request is reasonable and resolves disagreements concerning religious accommodation decisions. 
  1. Procedures

To ensure the University maintains accurate records regarding requests for religious accommodation, the employee must complete and submit the Religious Accommodation Request Form. The supervisor will submit the form to the appropriate management official who will issue a written decision to the employee approving or denying the request. The Procedure and Practice Guide provides additional details concerning the procedures for religious accommodations.

 

  1. Process

Requests for religious accommodations will be considered based on the totality of the circumstances. Once a request has been made in accordance with this policy, the applicable manager/supervisor must initiate a process/discussion with the applicant/employee. The individual requesting the accommodation is obligated to participate and cooperate in the process. OIE is available to facilitate the process. The Procedure and Practice Guide outlines the responsibilities and procedures associated with the decision making process.

 

  1. Disputes

If an applicant/employee’s request for religious accommodation is denied, he or she may seek redress through OIE’s investigation and resolution procedures. These procedures allow for informal or formal investigation of the denial decision pursuant to the University's Nondiscrimination Policy - HOP 3-3020.

 

  1. Interim Accommodation

Interim accommodation(s) may be provided while the applicant/employee’s request is being processed or if an approved accommodation cannot be promptly implemented.

 

  1. Recordkeeping

OIE maintains all documents related to an applicant/employee’s religious accommodation request. The confidentiality of a religious accommodation request under this policy and all documents, correspondence, interviews and discussions relating to the request will be maintained on a need to know basis to the extent permitted by law. Any person who knowingly and intentionally makes an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information under this policy is subject to disciplinary action.

 

  1. Retaliation Prohibited

Retaliation of any kind against an individual for requesting a religious accommodation is strictly prohibited. Individuals who believe they are experiencing retaliation should contact OIE.

XI. History 
None
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