NEW YORK (Mar. 7)
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency which administers provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring bias in employment, will hold fact-finding hearings to gather information on employers’ accommodation to religious observance needs in employment, according to an announcement in the March 3 Federal Register.
The hearings, which will begin here on April 6, are designed to gather information on the range of alternatives being used in the business and labor communities to deal with the conflict between employes’ religious needs and work schedules, according to Sidney Kwestel, president of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA). Additional hearings are tentatively scheduled to be held next month in Los Angeles and Milwoukee.
The Civil Rights Act provides that employers are required to make “reasonable accommodation” to the religious needs of their employes unless “undue hardship” would result.
Kwestel said the hearings will be the first broad-range exploration by a government agency of the problems faced by the Sabbath observer in employment and the means used to resolve them. He applauded the EEOC and its chairman, Commissioner Eleanor Holmes Norton, for acting to bring the job problems of religious minorities to a higher public awareness.
Kwestel said it had been COLPA’s experience in hundreds of situations that accommodation to religious needs by employers is easily accomplished and should not be seen as presenting substantial problems for employers. He said he hoped the hearings would develop information demonstrating there are many ways to provide such accommodations.
Dennis Rapps, COLPA executive director, said the EEOC had been in contact with COLPA for information and assistance in connection with the hearings and that COLPA was providing full cooperation.