Religious Accommodation Policy

Columbia University is committed to providing a learning and working environment that is respectful of the religious beliefs of its students, faculty and staff.  As part of this commitment, Columbia will make good faith efforts to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious belief, unless such an accommodation would create an undue hardship for the school/department.  An undue hardship is a significant expense or difficulty placed on the University. This may include accommodations that are unduly expensive, disruptive, interfere with the essential functions of the employee’s job, or that would alter the academic or operational needs of the University.

Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, the following:  providing individuals with leave for religious observances, providing a time and/or place to pray, providing the flexibility to wear religious attire, permitting flexible scheduling or adjustments to work schedules, and/or paid or unpaid time off.  The accommodations must be approved by the department in advance. 

Employees requesting personal or vacation days to observe a religious holiday may submit a written request for time off to their manager as soon as they become aware of the need for time off.

All other employees may request a religious accommodation by completing the Religious Accommodation Request Form and submitting it to their manager with a copy to a local HR representative, who will then consult with Central HR.  The written request should include the type of religious conflict that exists and the employee’s suggested accommodation.  Employees are expected to cooperate with the department’s good faith efforts to accommodate their practice or belief. 

Reasonable accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis.  Factors that are considered in this determination include the nature of the accommodation requested, the duration of the request, alternative accommodations, the impact on the operation of the department/unit, and the ability of the individual to perform the essential functions of the position if the accommodation is granted.  

The Manager and HR Representative will meet with the employee to discuss the accommodation request and decision. If a reasonable accommodation is approved, the accommodation will be documented on the religious accommodation form and placed in the employee’s personnel file. Approvals will be provided in writing to the requesting employee, whenever possible.

If an employee’s request for accommodation is denied, the employee may also consider using paid time off (in the form of accrued vacation and personal days) which must follow the School or Department’s procedure for time off.

This policy covers all Officers of Administration and Non-Union Support Staff employed by Columbia University.

As set forth in Columbia University's EOAA Policies & Procedures, individuals may not be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs or practices, or because they lack religious beliefs or practices. Anyone who believes that they have been discriminated or retaliated against in connection with their request for a religious accommodation should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.