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Religion in the Workplace

August 23, 2002 • Volume 12, Issue 28
Should employers allow more religious expression?
By Brian Hansen

Introduction

Amric Singh Rathour filed a religious-discrimination complaint in June against the New York Police Department for firing him last year for wearing his turban and refusing to trim his beard, as required by his Sikh religion. He was in training to become a traffic agent. The NYPD requires all agents to “wear a white, vinyl eight-point hat properly fitted on the agent's head, without any articles visible.”  (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Amric Singh Rathour filed a religious-discrimination complaint in June against the New York Police Department for firing him last year for wearing his turban and refusing to trim his beard, as required by his Sikh religion. He was in training to become a traffic agent. The NYPD requires all agents to “wear a white, vinyl eight-point hat properly fitted on the agent's head, without any articles visible.” (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

From corporate boardrooms to the factory floor, Americans are increasingly expressing their religious views at work — holding prayer breakfasts, proselytizing co-workers and wearing turbans and other religious garb. Some experts argue the First Amendment entitles Americans to express their religious views at work. But others say religion has no place in the secular work environment. Many employers have struggled to accommodate the religious beliefs of Muslims and other workers, but in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, complaints about workplace religious discrimination have been rising. Meanwhile, lawmakers are set to debate a bill pending in Congress that would greatly expand employers' obligations to accommodate religious expression on the job.

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