Employers Must Accommodate Religious Clothing and Facial Hair

by Michael R. Lied
Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC

The Illinois Human Rights Act was recently amended to address clothing and facial hair issues connected with religion. It is now unlawful for an employer to impose upon a person any terms or conditions that would require such person to violate or forgo a sincerely-held practice of his or her religion including, but not limited to, the wearing of any attire, clothing or facial hair in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion.

This requirement appears to apply to both applicants and employees, and covers all aspects of employment, including obtaining or retaining employment, as well as opportunities for promotion, advancement and transfer. There is an exception if, after engaging in a bona-fide effort, the employer demonstrates it is unable to reasonably accommodate the employee’s (or prospective employee’s) sincerely-held religious belief, practice or observance without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.

Nothing in the new provision prohibits an employer from enacting a dress code or grooming policy that may include restrictions on attire, clothing or facial hair to maintain workplace safety or food sanitation. iBi

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