As is well known, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 included religion among its protected categories, alongside race, color, national origin and sex. Almost immediately the question arose whether the failure of the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation of a religious practice was a form of religious discrimination, absent a showing of undue hardship. Congress answered that question in the affirmative with its passage of amendments to the Civil Rights Act in 1972. That enactment was followed five years later by the Supreme Court's decision in TWA v. Hardison, which adopted what many advocates saw as a crabbed reading of "undue hardship" that made it unduly difficult for an employee to obtain an accommodation and was followed by other judicial decisions that similarly interpreted the phrase "reasonable accommodation." As we mark 50 years since passage of the Title VII religious accommodation provisions, we will hear from experts who discuss the events leading up to passage of those provisions, the history of the courts' interpretation of those key phrases, the efforts to enact legislation that would have further strengthened an employer's religious accommodation obligations, and current challenges faced by litigators in bringing accommodation claims.
Welcome and Introduction
- Rahmah A. Abdulaleem, Executive Director, KARAMAH; Co-Chair, Religious Freedom Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice
Richard T. Foltin, Freedom Forum Fellow for Religious Freedom, Religious Freedom Center, Freedom Forum Institute; Special Counsel, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Co-Chair, Religious Freedom Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice
Nathan Lewin, Co-Founding Partner, Lewin & Lewin LLP
- Jennifer C. Pizer, Chief Legal Officer, Lambda Legal
- Alan Reinach, Executive Director and General Counsel, Church State Council; Co-Chair, Religious Freedom Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice
Title VII and Flexible Work Arrangements to Accommodate Religious Practice & Belief | Georgetown University Law Center
Lambda Legal 2019 testimony in support of the Equality Act (which addresses religious freedom concerns presented during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing): Jennifer C. Pizer & Gregory R. Nevins, Letter to Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Chair, et al., House Committee on Education and Labor, in Support of The Equality Act, H.R. 5 (April 22, 2019)
Evidence of ongoing anti-LGBTQ discrimination: Lambda Legal, The United States of Discrimination: Trends in Bias Against LGBTQ People and People Living with HIV, 2021 (March 2021)
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