J.B. Hunt Transport conducts random drug tests for its employees by using a hair sample. However, Sikh applicants were unable to fulfill that request because of their religious beliefs. Learn how the Sikh applicants responded at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Drug testing of employees is always a source of frustration. Nonetheless, it is essential to safety in the workplace. But, does drug testing ever threaten an employee’s religious liberty?
J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. recently found itself facing that question along with lawyers at the EEOC and The Sikh Coalition. Hunt Transport randomly tests its employees for drug use by using a hair sample. That works in most cases, but not for Sikh employees.
Sikhism requires its followers to neither shave, nor cut their hair. The simple act of plucking a hair from their head would cause Sikhs to violate their religious beliefs.
Sikh applicants to the trucking company explained their predicament, but the company denied their request for an alternative drug testing option. Ultimately, they were not hired and the employees sued alleging religious discrimination. Wisely, the company agreed to settle the matter.
Employers cannot make employment decisions based upon an employee’s religion. Further, companies have a duty to accommodate an employee’s religion so long as that can be done without undue hardship to the organization. In this case, refusing to hire someone because they would not cut their hair for a drug test is unreasonable when multiple alternative tests are at the company’s disposal.
Freedom—and especially religious freedom—demands that we do the hard work of balancing corporate safety against individual liberty.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.