Our university protects religious freedom by offering accommodations for religious observances in line with federal law and our non-discrimination policy. Accommodations can range from schedule adjustments to academic and work flexibility, ensuring no one is penalized for their religious practice. Requests for accommodations should be directed to supervisors for employees and professors for students. For guidance or further assistance, contact the OIEC’s Support and Safety Measures team at cureport@colorado.edu.

Religious Accommodations FAQ

o Federal law and university policy ensure the right to religious freedom and the university is required to provide an accommodation for religious practices.

o Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for religious observances (as well as for disability and pregnancy) is considered discriminatory.

o An accommodation request is considered reasonable if it does not create a substantial burden on the overall operation of the university.

o As a large institution, it’s rare for an accommodation request to be deemed an undue hardship.

o The impacts on co-workers are relevant only to the extent that they go on to affect the operation of the institution (as a whole).

o Accommodations are not determined on the "validity" of the religious belief or practice. 

o Bias or hostility to a religious practice or type of accommodation cannot be a defense for not accommodating.

o Never question the legitimacy of an employee’s or student’s religious beliefs or their adherence to the belief or observance.

o Employee requests go to their supervisor.

o Student academic requests go to their professors and appeals go to the Chair or Dean of the department.

o Other religious accommodation requests (housing, dining, etc.) go to the staff in those specific departments.

o    No, departmental policies should not be written or enforced to treat the approval of absences related to religious accommodations in the same way as vacation leave/missed class or work.
o    Missed time or work for religious purposes should never be penalized if it is a pre-planned, timely request.

o    While vacation time can be used by an employee for a religious observance, supervisor approval must be based on the need to accommodate and not on the impact of an absence.
o    Options for making up time or allowing alternative work/assignment completion must be provided.

o    You must reasonably accommodate the need to exercise a religious practice and not merely assess the reasonableness of a particular accommodation.  
o    If you would like to discuss a religious accommodation request, the OIEC’s Support and Safety Measures staff is available to help determine the best approach.
o    Email cureport@colorado.edu for further assistance.

o    Scheduling changes and voluntary shift substitutions.
o    Modification of dress codes.
o    Designating a private location in the workplace for observance.
o    Using paid vacation or unpaid leave.
o    Job reassignments.

o    If a student needs to miss an exam, offer to proctor the exam at another time or have another faculty member proctor the exam. The online testing proctoring program Proctorio is also available as an alternative in some cases.
o    If the student needs to miss class related to a religious practice/observance, excuse the absence with no penalty and provide support for the student for any in-class discussion/material provided that day. 

o    OIEC’s Support and Safety Measures staff can be a resource to address questions/concerns about determining religious accommodations.
o    For further assistance, please email cureport@colorado.edu.

Determining Religious Accommodations in Employment

Determine if religious holiday time off could be “flexed” based on unit norms and procedures.  
o    Request flex time through the supervisor to work hours at another time in the work week.  
o    If a flex request is denied for business reasons, request personal time off via vacation request through the timekeeping system.
o    If flex time is not an option, request personal time off via vacation request through the timekeeping system.
o    If no vacation leave is available, consider requesting unpaid time off. 

Flexing request: 
o    Determine if flex requests can be accommodated per the schedule of employees and potential coverage needs. Refer to norms and procedures in place that are equitable to other requests for flex time. 
o    Review and approve vacation leave like normal circumstances for personal time off.  
o    If no vacation leave is available to the employee and unpaid time off is requested, follow the same process for approval as flex or vacation leave.