Planning for Religious Holidays, Observances, and Accommodations

Cornell faculty and staff represent a variety of religious backgrounds and faiths, including those who subscribe to no religion or are non-observant. There are many widely observed religious holidays (some of which may be more familiar to you than others). To create and maintain an inclusive and respectful workplace for all employees regardless of religious belief or non-belief, we ask that faculty and staff keep the following guidelines and best practices in mind:

  • Use an inclusive approach if/when celebrating events and holidays.
  • Plan important work-related events, meetings, programs, meals, and travel for days other than observed religious holidays.
  • Avoid or modify work-related banquets and other meal events during fasting times (e.g., Ramadan, Yom Kippur, Lent).
  • When decorating, follow all guidelines that limit displays based on maintenance and safety requirements unique to any area.
  • Allow flexible schedules to accommodate religious observances.
  • Allow staff the use of available time away leave (e.g., vacation, unpaid, or health and personal leave) to accommodate religious observances.
  • Consult the religious accommodation process to resolve conflict between an employee’s request for religious observance, e.g., head covering or facial jewelry, and the business needs of the department.  

For more information on religious accommodations in the workplace, please contact the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations at 254-7232 or equalopportunity@cornell.edu.