Workplace Culture

Accommodating Religions Starts at Home (A Love Story)

By Staff Report

Aug. 29, 2012

Nine years ago today I got married. Our wedding was not what you’d call traditional. I’m Jewish and my wife is Catholic, and we wanted our ceremony to blend the best of both traditions. While my wife’s dream wedding included her dad walking her down a church aisle, we were willing to sacrifice if we could not find a priest and a rabbi who would accommodate our wishes. With nervous trepidation, we met with the priest of Colleen’s parish, who, as it turned out, was 100 percent on board with our plan. We next found a rabbi, and all of us worked together to craft the ceremony we wanted: in a church, under a chuppah, with a beautiful blend of both religions and our respective traditions and customs.

There has been a lot of ink spilled lately about employers not accommodating employees’ religions. Whether it’s Disneyland refusing to permit a Muslim employee to wear a hijab, or a Burger King franchise denying the request of a Pentecostal employee to wear a skirt instead of pants, or a New York state university firing an employee because of his “I ♥ Jesus” lanyard, employers seem to have forgotten how to accommodate. People are quick to lay blame at the feet of these companies. Yet, teaching how to accommodate starts at home. If children learn exclusion, how can we expect them to act any differently as adults? If nothing else, I know my kids (being raised Catholic, but with a healthy dose of Jewish in the home) should not make these mistakes as they grow. We won’t let them, and, as they age, I hope they won’t want to.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.

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