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November 15, 2002
Ramadan Observance and the Workplace
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November 15, 2002

As workplaces become more diverse, employers and employees alike are learning how to accommodate Islamic workers’ observance of Ramadan, their religion's lunar calendar month of fasting, United Press International reports.

During Ramadan, which began on Nov. 6 this year, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It is a time dedicated to one’s faith through fasting, reflection and ritual prayer. One issue with which employers need to contend includes employee scheduling to accommodate the religious observances, UPI notes.

Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, an employer must “reasonably” accommodate a religious request, as long it does not put undue hardship on the employer, a civil rights consultant tells UPI.

“Human Resources are very much aware of religious rights as it’s becoming more and more prevalent,” the consultant tells UPI.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations publishes pamphlets and books to help employers learn about Ramadan.

Requests for accommodations for Ramadan are similar to other requests for religious observances, except the worker may ask for some flexibility to attend a place of worship or uninterrupted time to practice ritual prayer in the tradition of Ramadan, UPI reports.

UPI reports that it’s important to inform supervisors about when Ramadan begins and ends and what accommodations may be needed. Employers can offer flexibility in scheduling through personal time off, UPI notes.

One human resources manager says: “I don’t personally believe that not understanding Ramadan leads to discrimination in the workplace – as long as the company and its management promote a company culture that respects all religions equally.”

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