The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued two guidance documents that highlight employers' obligations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make accommodations for dress and grooming practices motivated by employees' religious beliefs.
The EEOC guidance comes as the number of religion-based discrimination charges filed with the agency continues to grow. In fiscal year 2013, the EEOC received 3,721 charges alleging religious discrimination, an increase of 47 percent over fiscal year 2003, and of more than 100 percent over fiscal year 1997.
Although the guidance documents are not binding, most of the principles they detail are well established, and courts often give significant weight to the EEOC's views in deciding Title VII cases.