Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII), individuals have the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of religion. This law requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for an employee’s “sincerely held” religious beliefs if doing so does not impose “undue hardship” on the employer.
The Supreme Court has defined “undue hardship” for purposes of Title VII as imposing “more than a “de minimis cost” (something more than a hardship) on the operation of the employer’s business. It is the employer’s burden to show that an undue hardship would exist in granting the accommodation and that no alternative accommodations exist.
The determination of whether a proposed accommodation imposes an undue hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Relevant factors may include the type of workplace, nature of the employee’s duties, identifiable cost of the accommodation in relation to the size and operating costs of the employer, and the number of employees who will in fact need a particular accommodation
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employer cannot rely on a hypothetical hardship when faced with an employee’s religious objection and could be held liable for denial of reasonable accommodation if evidence indicates an accommodation could have been granted without undue hardship.