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PRESS RELEASE
7-22-08

EEOC ISSUES COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE ON RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

New Compliance Manual Section Addresses Wide Range of Contemporary Workplace Issues

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a new Compliance Manual Section regarding workplace discrimination on the basis of religion.

The Section includes a comprehensive review of the relevant provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the EEOC’s policies regarding religious discrimination, harassment and accommodation. The EEOC also issued a companion question-and-answer fact sheet and best practices booklet. All three documents are available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 seeks to ensure that applicants and employees enjoy the freedom to compete, advance and succeed in the workplace, irrespective of their religious beliefs,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “This Compliance Manual Section serves as a valuable resource for employers, employees, practitioners and EEOC staff seeking information on Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination.”

The Section addresses what constitutes “religion” within the meaning of Title VII; disparate treatment based on religion; the requirement to reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and practices; religion-based harassment; and retaliation. The Section also provides guidance on the sometimes complex workplace issues involved in balancing employees’ rights regarding religious expression with employers’ need to maintain efficient, productive workplaces.

The EEOC issued this section in response to an increase in charges of religious discrimination, increased religious diversity in the United States, and requests for guidance from stakeholders and agency personnel investigating and litigating claims of religious discrimination.

Religious discrimination charge filings with the EEOC nationwide have risen substantially over the past 15 years, doubling from 1,388 in Fiscal Year 1992 to a record level of 2,880 in FY 2007.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.