AmI required todisclose my religious beliefsin order to keep a related religious facial piercing?

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AmI required todisclose my religious beliefsin order to keep a related religious facial piercing?

I have a nose stud and it has spiritual and emotional meaning. I will stand behind that it is religious related. Facial piercings are against company policy, however it was there before my hiring, and for the entire year and almost 4 months since. It has never before been an issue. I have to declare my religion in order to keep it but I’m uncomfortable having to define myself religiously to hostile supervisors. I’m already feeling judged and I don’t want to expose my personal beliefs any further then necessary. How much am I required to share? I work for a national retailer as an overnight stocker.

Asked on January 23, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deals with many religious employment discrimination matters and while there is much case law, every ruling is different dependant on the circumstances of the particular discrimination. With your matter (nose piercing) and your description as a spiritual and emotional, it doesn't connote religious discrimination.  In other words, it cannot simply have a connection to you without a religious component because then it won't qualify as a religious matter.  One point in your field though is you indicate you are an overnight stocker of merchandise, which means your exposure to customers is little to none.  Therefore, if it is an image the company is trying to promote for its customers, it is not like you would be running into issues. Therefore, before you go any further with what you are required to share, think about the following. 1) Most states follow employment at will laws, which means you can be fired any time with or without cause, as long as it is not discriminatory. 2) You need to ensure your reason for a nose piercing is actually religious and you may need to show which religion (think of the tons of cases where Muslim women wear hijabs on their heads). 3) You may need to consult with the EEOC before you move forward with the former.


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