Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Feb 19, 2013

Applicant’s disclosure of scheduling conflict with Sabbath raises concerns

Q&A 

Q: During a job interview, an applicant disclosed that he isn’t available to work on Sundays because of his religion. This position sometimes requires weekend work. How should I have responded in the interview? Can I reject him for the job?

Q: During a job interview, an applicant disclosed that he isn’t available to work on Sundays because of his religion. This position sometimes requires weekend work. How should I have responded in the interview? Can I reject him for the job?


A: When this applicant raised a religious issue during your interview, the safest approach would have been to thank him for letting you know, but explain that any religious conflicts with work schedules would be discussed later, after a hiring decision is made. Applicants and employees are entitled to accommodation of their sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it would cause undue hardship to the company’s operations. If you reject the applicant at this early stage based on concerns about religious accommodation, it could be considered illegal discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

You should look at this applicant’s overall credentials and make your hiring decision, but to the extent humanly possible, try not to take into account his concern about working on Sundays. Definitely don’t reveal it to anyone else making the hiring decision. If he ends up being the most qualified candidate, and successfully meets any conditions in the conditional job offer, then at that point arrange to talk with him specifically about his scheduling concerns. Ask him to help you understand his religious belief, and then you can try to see whether there’s a way to reasonably accommodate him. You should explain your schedule and see what ideas he has. You should also explore options on your end, such as consulting the shift supervisor and asking employees if they would be willing to trade shifts.

If you end up finding a mutually satisfactory solution, great. If not, then contact your Vigilant staff representative to make sure you’ve looked at all angles. Ultimately, if you’re unable to accommodate this individual, then document your reasoning and the options you considered. For more information, see our Legal Guide, “Religious Accommodation in the Workplace” (1147).

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