Arkansas Religious Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Arkansas Religious Discrimination: What you need to know

The Arkansas Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on religion (AR Code Sec. 16-123-101 et seq.). The Act applies to employers with nine or more employees. Under the Act, religion is defined to include all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice. In addition to prohibiting discrimination, the Act expressly prohibits employers from:
• Retaliation against an individual who has opposed an unlawful act, or who has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing
• Intimidation, threats, or interference with an individual's exercise of rights granted under the Act, or with an individual who aided or encouraged another person to exercise granted or protected rights
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Exception. The Act does not apply to employment by a religious corporation, association, society or other religious entity.
Employers must attempt to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of job applicants and employees, unless to do so would create an undue business hardship. Under the Act, an employer may refuse to accommodate an applicant's or employee's religious observance or practice if the employer can demonstrate that it is unable to reasonably make the accommodation without undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business (AR Code Sec. 16-123-103(b)). Responding to a need for accommodation may mean exploring and implementing alternative workplace practices that are compatible with the employee's religious beliefs, such as flexible arrival and departure times, floating or optional holidays, flexible work breaks, use of lunch time in exchange for early departure, staggered work hours, and permitting an ...

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