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Poll finds problems accommodating religion at work

August 30, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • A group of workers from Delphi Energy & Chassis Saginaw Operations in Michigan prays outside the plant during a break in 2006.
A group of workers from Delphi Energy & Chassis Saginaw Operations… (Jeff Schrier / Saginaw News )

More than a third of American workers say they have seen or personally experienced problems with religion not being properly accommodated in the workplace, a newly released survey finds.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the secular Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, found that the most commonly reported problems included being required to work on a religious holiday or attending company events that didn't include kosher, halal or vegetarian meals.

Nearly half of religious workers who were not Christian said they had experienced or witnessed such problems. The survey showed that nearly half of white evangelicals responded similarly. Atheists were also likely to report problems accommodating religion at work, with 40% saying they saw or experienced it at their jobs.

Less than half of workers surveyed said that their workplaces offered flexible hours to accommodate prayer or other kinds of religious observance, and even fewer -- 21% -- said their employer had a policy to let people “swap holidays” so that they could avoid working on days important to their religion.

The survey also examined how people felt about bringing up religion at work at all: White evangelical Protestants were more than twice as likely as other workers, on average, to say they had shared their beliefs with coworkers at times. Nearly nine out of 10 said they were somewhat or very comfortable when faith came up in the workplace.

In contrast, 43% of atheist, agnostic and secular workers were somewhat or very uncomfortable when religion came up at work. Almost a third of workers who were religious but not Christian also felt uneasy about it.

Tanenbaum, which offers programs to help companies make sure people of different faiths are welcome at work, said its findings illustrated religion is a workplace issue that employers should not ignore.

The organization worked with Public Religion Research LLC, an independent research group, to conduct the survey of more than 2,000 workers in March.

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Twitter: @LATimesemily

emily.alpert@latimes.com

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