Religious Belief vs. Personal Belief - Equal Employment Opportunity
Religious Belief vs. Personal Belief
A supervisor questioned whether or not a personal belief that has been adhered to for a number of generations by an employee was similar to a person having a particular religious belief. For Example, it is my belief and family belief not to take vaccinations. These vaccinations are a requirement for the job what should the supervisor do?
The prohibition against discrimination on the basis of religion is different than the other protected categories under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because in many instances, it relates more to belief and conduct than to pure status. For the most part religious belief are easy to recognize.
29 CFR 1605.1 provides that in most cases whether or not a practice or belief is religious is not an issue. The EEO Commission define religious practices to include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. "The fact that no religious group espouses such belief will not determine whether the belief or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief is a religious belief of the employee or prospective employee."
The emphasis is on the nature and strength of the beliefs and not on whether the belief is adhered to by any organized religious group. "A religion is a set of attitudes, beliefs are practices which permeate an individual’s life. Religion is not to be invoked arbitrarily or at the convenience of the individual. A religious belief functions as a religion in the life of the individual."
If the belief serves as an moral or ethical standard then it is to be regarded as a belief and must be adhered to and recognized as such. The employee is not required to take the vaccination and must not be discriminated against based on there personal belief.