Religion and Spirituality in the Workplace
Faith in the workplace and the level of accommodations employers should allow is an increasing problem. Moreover, the influx of people from different backgrounds bringing with them different religious practices has caused organizations to seek help from organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the courts, and legal firms on how to deal with this new reality. Thus, the complexities surrounding religion and spirituality in the workplace and recommendations on the cause and solutions were examined.
1. What are the possible explanations for the person’s behavior?
The need to be accepted or included is a fundamental tenet of the human race. Moreover, people express themselves through relationships. Examples include community involvement, work relationships, and religious affiliations (Baker, 2001). Also, acceptance by others improves a person’s overall well-being and improves their ability to give and receive friendship (Baker, 2001). So, when a person is or perceives to be degraded by others it can adversely affect their behavior (Lueders, 2011). Consequently, this is the genesis of a hostile work environment (Williams, 2011).
Offensive conduct can create a hostile work environment (Williams, 2011). Hence, a hostile work environment refers to, “any change that results in an alteration of an employee’s mood or behavior based upon the conduct” (Williams, 2011, p. 1). Thus, the unwelcomed comments based on negative stereotypes of Sonia’s religious attire by her coworkers caused her to feel self-conscious and withdraw.
2. How should management/leadership respond to this situation?
Religion is a federally protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Canas & Sondak, 2010). Hence, under the law employees are entitled to operate in an environment free of harassment in any form. The forms of harassment include physical, written, and verbal abuse (“Harassment,” 2011). Moreover, Sonia’s decrease in communication based verbal abuse by her coworkers could impact productivity if the department structure is based on team collaboration. Also, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers should intervene immediately once they are aware of the offense even in the absence of a formal complaint (Shaw, 2008). Therefore, management has a legal, ethical, and business reason to correct the problem.
Inasmuch as the offense was on Sonia’s religious attire management should initiate several actions. Hence, actions include clarifying dress code policies. For example, if a customer-facing company requires employees to dress in a certain manner these requirements should be addressed during the hiring phase. However, if stringent dress code policies do not apply employers should accommodate employee’s wearing religious garb if it does not violate workplace safety (such as the need for hard hats at...