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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, once a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Nov 15, 2017

Do employers have to accommodate their employees’ religious exercise? The answer at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


Lois Davis worked as an IT specialist near Houston, Texas. In 2011, her county employer was working to install all new personal computers, network components, and a/v equipment. In order to complete the project, the IT staff would be required to work through the weekend of the Fourth of July.

Davis however, had a short conflict. That Sunday, July 3rd, her church was having a very special service requiring her attendance and participation. She informed her supervisor of the conflict, offered to return to the office as soon as her religious commitment was complete, and even explained that there was a ready and willing volunteer to cover the time that she would be unavailable.

Typically, employers are required to accommodate the exercise of an employee’s religion. However, employers are not required to so accommodate if doing so would cause an “undue hardship” to their business.

And that is exactly what Davis’ employer argued, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The court explained that it may not be an undue hardship for an employer to allow its employee 3 hours to attend a religious service—especially when that employee had arranged for a volunteer substitute to cover her responsibilities while away.

Accommodating the religion of an employee can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Davis’ case is a good reminder that the goals of an employer need not conflict with the ability of an employee to freely exercise her religion.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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