Workplaces, although secular and formal, have had to over the years allow for cultural and religious accommodations. This is because in the west, employees are increasingly from diverse backgrounds, meaning that the conventions of what is acceptable at the workplace have had to change too. Previously, the workplace in the west tended to have a homogenous and formal. Today however, the presence of work colleagues with unique cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds mean that employers have had to make adjustments to their respective organizational cultures. The changes to organizational culture have proved necessary in order to maintain a skilled and motivated work force. A primary accommodation that employers have had to make is religious. Specifically, employers have had to reconstitute work schedules and processes to accommodate religious precepts.
At one local grocery store, the policy the employer maintained was that religious activities had to occur on the employees’ own time. That means that during formal work hours, no deviations from the norm were possible. The nature of grocery store and similar providers is ensuring uninterrupted service. Consequently, any employee that wishes to interrupt their employment schedules to accommodate religious activities has to do so in advance. Where the employer notices that the interruptions will be a regular feature, it is very difficult for the employee to maintain their position with that employer. The case of two religious employees at the grocery store illustrates the point.
The location of a business, its online presence, legal liabilities and economic factors such as unemployment levels all contribute to the extent to which employers might be willing to accommodate religiosity at the workplace. The local grocery in question, for example, had a total of 5 employees and was located in a rural town with high unemployment rates. A major coal mining interest had shut down, meaning that the town had plentiful labor for the businesses still in operation to draw from. Because the grocery store, like other businesses in the town were struggling, the grocery store manager though understanding was generally uninterested in any undertaking that entailed curtailing effective work hours.
Given the location of the grocery store, its two employees from minority religions had limited networks to tap into, besides the fact that the store management having a workforce too small to foster employee networks. For instance, the grocery store encouraged employees to pack their own lunch because the loss of a major employer meant that all businesses in the town and outlying areas were performing poorly. Additionally, the store had previously hired its employees from only one religious minority group previously and had been exposed to legal liabilities. As a result, the management was unwilling to accommodate any potential recruit that was overtly religious, something that the two minority employees came to discover.
The high unemployment rates in the town also meant that employees that appeared frivolous to their employers and asserted their religious prerogatives were likely to remain unemployed. Like other businesses in town, the grocery store’s exposure to a suit alleging infringement of religious rights has resulted in significant losses for the store. Consequently, the rural town had a low threshold for frivolity and employers avoided overly religious potential hires. The plentiful labor comprising of coal miners, many of whom entertained the perception that religious was a private matter, were more preferable to the area’s businesses than the ethnic minorities that had been moving to the locale in increasing numbers
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