Institutional Equity and Compliance

Religious Accommodations

The California State University requires its administrators and faculty to reasonably accommodate the religious needs, observances, and practices of their employees and students upon request. An individual’s request for reasonable religious accommodations, including requests for time off from work or school activities, is justified unless University operations would suffer unduly by granting the individual’s request. 

Individuals may not be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs or practices, or because they lack religious beliefs or practices. Anyone who believes he or she has been discriminated against by the denial of a requested religious accommodation should contact the Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance.

Religious Accommodations for Employees

Employees should make accommodation requests directly to their supervisors or the Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance with as much notice as possible. A supervisor may only deny leave when an employee’s absence from work would create an undue hardship on the department’s operations.

Reasonable accommodations for employees might include granting individual leave for religious observances, providing a time and place to pray, or allowing the flexibility to wear religious attire to work. Other examples of accommodations for religious beliefs might include scheduling changes, voluntary substitutions of shifts or hours with supervisory approval, and appropriate job reassignments or lateral transfers. Reasonable accommodations are necessarily determined on an individual basis and depend on the particular circumstances.

Factors considered in determining religious accommodations include business needs; academic requirements; and considerations of cost, safety, efficiency, and the rights of others. The University is not required by law or policy to accommodate religious beliefs when such accommodation would violate other laws or interfere with the safety and security of our campus (for example, a religious practice related to use of illegal drugs or carrying a weapon might not be reasonable to accommodate). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidance at www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm

Depending on the situation and with supervisory approval, an employee requesting a religious accommodation may use accumulated leave (such as vacation/annual leave), compensatory time, or leave without pay. In some circumstances, the leave may be accommodated by an alternate work schedule approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor. 

Religious Accommodations for Students

Reasonable accommodations are necessarily determined on an individual basis and depend on the circumstances. They might include rescheduling an exam or giving the student a make-up exam, allowing an individual or group presentation to be made on a different date, letting a student attend a different discussion section for the same class that week, adjusting a due date, or assigning the student appropriate make-up work that is intrinsically no more difficult than the original assignment.

A student should make his or her religious accommodation request to the instructor or faculty member in charge of the course. Students are asked to examine the course syllabus for potential conflicts at the start of the semester and promptly notify the instructor of any anticipated accommodation needs, providing as much notice as possible. Students are responsible for arranging in advance to make up missed work or material in a timely manner.

As stipulated in the revised Course Syllabus Policy, the Division of Student Affairs must maintain an annual religious and cultural holiday calendar. To obtain the most current list of religious holidays and cultural observances that may require scheduling consideration, use the Master Calendar.

Some religious holidays are work-restricted and others are not work-restrictedThis list is not all-encompassing. Faculty, staff, students and administrators at Cal Poly Pomona may use this reference to aid in making reasonable accommodations in the scheduling of tests or examinations and campus events.

392.4.4 The California State Education Code, as law, supersedes all campus policies. In particular, section 89320 states:

The Trustees of the California State University shall require each state university, in administering any test or examination, to permit any student who is eligible to undergo the test or examination to do so, without penalty, at a time when that activity would not violate the student's religious creed. This requirement shall not apply in the event that administering the test or examination at an alternate time would impose an undue hardship which could not reasonably have been avoided. In any court proceeding in which the existence of an undue hardship which could not reasonably have been avoided is an issue, the burden of proof shall be upon the institution.