WHITE HOUSE GUIDELINES FOR THE WORKPLACE:
First, let’s focus briefly on government workplaces. For over ten years, the U.S. government has recognized the importance of religious discrimination in the workplace. On August 14, 1997, President Clinton established The White House Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace; they have been continued by Presidents Bush and Obama. Although these guidelines are not binding in the private sector, they serve as examples of the kinds of policies that may be useful to adopt.
The guidelines begin by outlining general policies concerning religious expression in the federal workplace (i.e., the White House, federal departments, agencies, etc.) and then list the specific behaviors that are permitted. These guidelines were meant to answer the most frequently encountered questions, but bear in mind that actual cases may be more complicated and lead to other results.
For your reference we have excerpted some major points from the White House Guidelines. As you review them, please take note of the challenges that can emerge when conflicting “rights” or “entitlements” meet head on. Click here For a full copy of the Guidelines
The excerpts from the White House Guidelines follow:
(A) Religious Expression
(B) Religious Discrimination
Agencies must accommodate employees’ exercise of their religion unless that accommodation would impose undue hardship on the agency’s operations, but any hardship must be real and not speculative. Such an accommodation should be done at a minimal cost to the agency… Religious accommodation cannot be denied if the agency regularly permits similar accommodations for nonreligious purposes.
(D) Establishment of Religion
Supervisors and employees must not engage in activities or expression that leaves a reasonable observer with the impression that the government was endorsing or denigrating religion or a particular religion; the context of the expression and/or whether official channels of communication are used should be taken into account.