The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.


Title VII: Religion-Social Security Numbers

May 29, 2002

Dear :

This is in response to your letter dated May 8, 2002 to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You had additional questions concerning an April 30, 2002 letter sent to you by the EEOC's Albuquerque District Office concerning your religious objections to providing a social security number to an employer. Specifically you ask for the "specific law or regulation that requires a SSN for employment" and a source for the IRS quotes in the April 30th letter.

The EEOC enforces, among other laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of religion and provides that an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs and practices unless doing so would cause "undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business." 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(j) and 2000e-2(a). Therefore, the issue that arises under the laws that the EEOC enforces is whether an employer has a duty to reasonably accommodate an individual's bona fide religious belief that forbids obtaining or using a social security number.

In recent years, the courts that have addressed the issue have uniformly held that the Internal Revenue Code requires employers to provide their employees' social security numbers to the IRS and that employers therefore are not required to accommodate an employee's religious objections to using social security numbers. See, e.g., Seaworth v. Pearson, 203 F.3d 1056 (8th Cir.2000); cert denied, 531 U.S. 895 (2000); Sutton v. Providence St. Joseph Medical Center 192 F.3d 826 (9th Cir.1999); and Baltgalvis v. Newport News Shipbuilding Inc.132 F.Supp.2d 414 (E.D.Va. 2001), aff'd, 15 Fed. Appx. 172 (4th Cir. 2001). For your convenience, we have attached copies of these cases.

You also requested an IRS contact for additional questions. You may address your questions to the following IRS office:

Office of the Chief Counsel
Employment Tax Branch
Exempt Organizations/Employment Tax/Government Entities
Internal Revenue Service, Room 3026
1111 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20224

We hope that this information is helpful to you. Please note, however, that this letter does not constitute an opinion or interpretation of the Commission within the meaning of § 713(b) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-12(b).

Sincerely,

Dianna B. Johnston
Assistant Legal Counsel


This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.

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