Religious discrimination focal point of recent EEOC updates

| Feb 10, 2021 | Federal Employment Law

We periodically spotlight the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at the national Devadoss Law Firm.

And for obvious reasons. We underscore the EEOC’s key placement in the labor universe, stressing on our website its broad mandate to “oversee equal employment in the federal workplace.”

That ample discretion to consider and formally act on seminal employment law matters was on display last month in an announced commission ruling that provided key updates in an important area.

That ruling comes in the form of a 3-2 EEOC vote resulting in new guidelines based on federal court decisions that have issued in recent years. All Republican panel members approved the updates, with Democratic commission members being opposed to them.

The targeted subject matter spotlights Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically its protections safeguarding individuals against religious discrimination in the workplace. Many employment law commentators contend that new guidance on the topic has long been needed in light of judicial adjustments.

Unsurprisingly, and given that employers and workers are often at odds in matters tied to on-the-job religious expression and activity, there is both support and condemnation of the updates. Employees often cite employers’ blatant discrimination. Management frequently counters that it is unfairly straitjacketed in its business prerogatives, especially when it has a dominant religious purpose and character.

A recent Bloomberg discussion of the new guidelines stresses that fresh guidance “speaks to the discord between anti-discrimination laws and religious freedoms.”

How well it will do that remains to be seen. We will keep readers generally informed and provide them with key details concerning the updates in an upcoming post.

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