EEOC Updates Religious Discrimination Guidance

Last week, the EEOC released proposed updated guidance that refreshes the agency’s view of how anti-discrimination laws guard against religious bias and clarifies legal protections afforded to religious employers.

The proposed guidance refreshes the EEOC’s religious discrimination guidance manual, last updated in 2008, to align with the U.S. Supreme Court’s July 8, 2020 decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru that afforded religious employers wide leeway to hire and fire employees whose duties include religious instruction without having to worry about employment discrimination suits.

The updated guidance also accounts for the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. that held federal religious freedom laws exempt closely held companies from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate. The public has until December 17th to provide input on the proposed guidance. Once final, religious employers should review and adjust its policies and practices to account for this guidance to best align with the protections afforded under federal religious freedom laws.