Many employers tell their employees that in order to submit a religious accommodation request the employee MUST use the employers forms, online portals, or un-monitored email address. Employees who have their religious accommodation requests denied are told by the employer that their is "no appeal process," and that "the decision to deny the request is final." These statements are both lies and we are going to explain why.
Hello everyone, my name is Joseph Radzwion IV, your trusted attorney with Radzwion Law, PLLC, and this post we are answering whether employees MUST use the employers process when submitting a religious accommodation request. We also are covering the "no appeal" attitude of employers in part 2. Make sure you don't miss part two by going to our website and subscribing to our blog page email that is sent out every Friday.
Lie #1: "My way or the Highway"
Employers have continually lied to their employees by stating, "you MUST submit your religious accommodation the way we want, or we will not review your request." This is lie number one and the law does not require an employee to follow the "my way or the highway" policies of the employer.
An employer cannot require an employees to submit their religious accommodation request on a company specific form, through an online portal, or to a designated email address. You may be wondering, but if employers cannot require an employee to submit a request the way any employer wants, why does the employer lie to the employee and try and get the employee to use the employers process.
Consent to Terms: An Employer wants to try and get the employee to consent to terms that help the employer in the long run. But the law is clear, an employee cannot be required to agree to terms in order to assert their legal rights under Title VII. It's not a contract, it is the employee asserting their rights. More on this topic in our post titled "Things an Employer Cannot Do (Part 1). The link is below.
So what is required to put an employer on notice of a religious accommodation request? How would an employee follow the law instead of the process in which the employer has set up. Under Michigan law an employer is deemed to have been put on notice when an employee makes a verbal or written request for an exemption. “A notification method may be reasonable and constitutional if employing the method is ‘reasonably certain to inform those affected’ Sidun v. Wayne County Treasurer, 481 Mich. 503, 510 (2008). The employee is only required to ensure the method used to provide notice is reasonably certain to inform the employer.
Examples: Email to Human Resources, certified mail, etc. (This depends on how your company is set up and you will want to consult a trusted attorney to determine how you should put your employer on notice.)
YOUR Trusted Attorney:
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(REMEMBER: this post should not be taken as legal advice and you should always consult a Trusted Attorney with your legal questions.)