Request for Religious Accommodation: Interactive Process Key

My employee is asking for a month off due to her religion, which requires that she not work after dark for about a month. Do we have to honor this request as an accommodation?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) requires employers to make a reasonable accommodation to requests from employees for religious reasons, such as schedule changes.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code Sections 12940, et seq.) provides additional protection to Title VII, since both state and federal law address this issue.

This request came due to the employee’s religion requiring that she not work past sunset, yet her shift was an evening shift.

Explore Options

Often, these requests may sound difficult, but exploring options is important. Allowing co-workers to substitute or swap shifts is a possibility, or changing the employee to a different position might be an idea. Getting input from the employee themself could provide more avenues to explore.

In other words: engage in the interactive process of exploring options. Don’t automatically respond by saying that the request poses an “undue hardship.”


Religious accommodation can pose difficult problems for an employer. Oftentimes, a job candidate may not mention issues when asked if they can work a fluid schedule, including weekends, but then shortly after hire will claim they can’t work on Sundays. It can cause resentment in the workplace if one employee gets every Sunday off, yet others must work that day.

Different religions have more restrictions, as indicated in the question posed above. Keep in mind that Title Vll defines “religion” very broadly, so employers may be faced with many different types of requests.

The key in these situations is the interactive process noted above and exploring options to reach a result that is acceptable to both the employer and the employee.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at