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religion, workplace, employment, Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, private sector, public sector, church and state


This article reports on the thick layers of law applicable to claims of religious exception to public and private employment workplaces in the United States. It reviews the Supreme Court's First and Fourteenth Amendment salient holdings, distinguishing public sector (government) workplaces, and the extent to which legislative bodies may and may not oblige private employers to "accommodate" religiously-asserted requirements. It also provides exhaustive footnote analyses of all major federal statutes (plus some representative state and local law variations) pertinent to the topic. Its principal conclusions are these: In the currently prevailing view of the U.S. Supreme Court, neither public nor private employers are required to bend workplace rules to excuse or exempt employees claiming religious grounds for noncompliance. Nonetheless, a myriad of laws, federal as well as state and local, do impose such requirements, as the author fully notes. (At the end of that review, the author then poses his own question to challenge the reader's intuitions on this subject, namely, this: what makes "religious" objections so special or different that they shall be specially privileged, while other kinds of objections are not?)

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Constitutional law, Work environment, Business, Religion, Church and state--United States., Public administration, Church and state, Freedom of religion--United States., Employment (Economic theory), Freedom of religion