Religious Accommodation

During the year, many students, employees, and other members of the College community observe religious and cultural holidays and events. These may include multi-day observances such as Rosh Hashanah, Lent, and Ramadan, just to name a few.

Many students and employees will request absences for certain days or times in those periods. Some will be abstaining from meat on certain days. Some will be waiting until sunset before they eat or drink for the first time that day, all month. The College recognizes such observance of sincerely-held religious beliefs for the many belief systems held by our students and employees. Note: Actions by the College to accommodate religious beliefs, per statute, do not represent endorsement of any particular religion or practice.

Seminole State College provides reasonable accommodation for religious observances upon written request. These may include holy days or regularly-scheduled observances.  For those members of the College community expressing their cultures, the College offers Inclusion Tips for Cultural Observance and Traditions.

General

  • Assist with any requests for accommodations, such as a request for a private space to pray. These often will be for the early afternoon. Email the College’s Equity Coordinator for assistance in locating clean, private space, or proposing reasonable alternatives. The College assists upon written request and considers factors such as the individual’s location at the time needed, just as we work individually with requests for lactation space.
  • Students’ requests for religious accommodation are considered early in the semester if not before, per College Procedure 3.0610, Student Attendance, section F. Accommodation begins when the request is approved.
  • With students: be aware of fasting’s possible effects, especially related to safety. Examples of care may be related to lifting patients, using mechanical equipment, or pouring caustic chemicals. Accommodation requests follow College Procedure 3.0610, Student Attendance, section F.
  • Consider providing an alternative menu, or an alternative setting that does not include food, if you receive a written request for such accommodation under these College guidelines. That may come during a time when someone is fasting until sunset, for example, and does not wish to be around food or food of a certain type. If there is pizza to celebrate the end of the semester, and then the final course review will be discussed, faculty might set a time when the review will begin and welcome the student to join the pizza-free classroom at that time.
  • Employees engaged in physical tasks sometimes request additional rest periods during the day, possibly with shelter from harsh sun. Such alternative temporary work schedules may be considered, upon written request, following these College guidelines.

Students

Students requesting religious accommodation should provide their instructors or activity leaders with a written request that specifies the dates, days, and times of the religious observance. The College will discuss the request with the student, comparing the class or activity requirements with the request. The College will communicate its final decision to accept, decline, or offer a modification to the request.

The College’s policy on religious accommodation is contained in the College
Catalog. The section titled “Attendance Policy” includes the information
that a student must inform proper parties in advance of an absence for
observance of a religious holiday. Instructors will create a plan for
making up work missed. College Procedure 3.0610, Student Attendance,
provides details.

The College recommends that students consider their scheduled observances prior to enrollment; at times, choice of a different course section or modality could work without conflicting with the observance. Students should discuss scheduled observances with their instructors before the semester or during the Add/Drop period to ensure clear communication on academic actions related to absences.

There may be instances when the College schedule prevents makeup work or alternate assignments.  Examples may be clinical experiences scheduled at a host facility, or single-schedule offerings such as a panel discussion requiring student attendence.  Students should carefully review clinical experiences’ guidelines since health facilities, for instance, may create a schedule at any time during their 24/7 operation. There are rigid pre-registration criteria that the College cannot override and assigned shifts that the College cannot change.

Employees

The College’s policy on religious accommodation for employees stems from the Non- discrimination Policy (1.060). The College prohibits discrimination based on religion.

Applicants for employment should talk with the hiring official regarding the terms and conditions of the job. If applicant cannot meet the hours or daily schedule for the job, the supervisor will consider accommodations upon written request. As an example, the supervisor may know that a current employee would like the shift assigned to the vacant position and the applicant could work the shift assigned to the current employee.

No statute requires the College to create a new role or modify requirements of a position in order to make accommodation: that would not be reasonable.

The College may evaluate three factors relating to employees or applicants requesting religious accommodations in writing with dates or days and times:

  1. Did the individual make a request that was complete and timely?
  2. Does the request represent a sincerely held religious belief?
  3. How does the request impact operations? If an accommodation creates an undue hardship for the College, it may be denied.

Equity and Diversity/Title IX, 7.11.81, 5.6.19, updated 7.11.19, 7.21.21

Contact

Janet Balanoff
Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity/Title IX Coordinator
407.708.2963