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FAQs About Sabbath Accommodation

What should I do when I am expected to work during the hours of the Sabbath?

Contact the Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) as soon as possible for individual counseling and advice.

Does the law protect against religious discrimination on the job?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids religious discrimination. Federal guidelines state that employers with more than 15 employees must accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious convictions unless it would cause an “undue business hardship.” However, state laws in the northwest are tougher than federal laws. Alaska, Montana, and Oregon equal employment standards may be applied where there is one employee. In Idaho, the minimum number of employees is four. In Washington, the minimum is eight.

What if others at my work who claim to be Sabbatarians are not honoring the Sabbath and my employer points out this inconsistency?

Inform your employer that you cannot be responsible for the actions of others. Your actions are based on your personal religious convictions, buttressed by Biblical principles.

What if my employer grants my Sabbaths off, but then makes the work place so intolerable that I want to quit?

Keep a record of statements and incidents that could be considered harassment. Employers are responsible to provide an environment free from harassment of religious persons. However, proving that the motive is retaliation is practically impossible. Pray for strength and courage. Be pleasant and do your work as unto the Lord. Ask your pastor and church family for prayer and support.

Should I resign from my job since my employer says he cannot accommodate my beliefs and will have to terminate me unless I work Sabbaths?

Never quit your job under such circumstances. Your unemployment compensation benefits may be forfeited if you quit. Call the Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) for further assistance.

What if I am fired immediately when I inform my boss that I cannot work on the Sabbath?

Ask for the reason for your termination in writing. If you receive no written notice, report for work on your next scheduled working day. (An employee orally terminated returns to work to eliminate any confusion later in dealing with the state employment agency about whether that employee was terminated or quit voluntarily.)

Apply for unemployment compensation, stating that the reason for termination was lack of accommodation for your religious belief and practice. Be prepared to appeal if benefits are denied.

If you are threatened with being fired and your employer does not provide proof that accommodating you would cause him an undue hardship, file claims with both the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) and the appropriate State Agency (see our Links page). If you are from a state we don’t serve, we can refer you to organizations like ours in your area.

What if my boss informs me that my schedule has been changed and I’m now to work on Friday night or Sabbath?

As soon as you are informed that you are scheduled to work on Friday night or Sabbath, ask your supervisor for an accommodation for your religious beliefs. If your oral request is ignored or refused, put your request in writing. Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) can help you.  Call our office for further assistance.

What can I do when an examination for education or employment – falls on Sabbath?

Request an accommodation, an alternate examination schedule. If an oral request is denied, put it in writing. The EEOC Guidelines include specific requirements for employers and teachers to make such accommodations. You will need a letter verifying your church membership and the need for an accommodation for your religious belief and practice. Our official letter indicates to your professor / test official / employer that you have support for your request and will help to obtain a positive outcome in most cases.

Call the Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA)

for individualized counsel and assistance at 360-857-7040. We are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Friday.