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Religious Accommodations

The university is committed to making every reasonable effort to accommodate the religious observances of our students, faculty and staff. 

Religious accommodation is the process in which employees and supervisors provide a reasonable accommodation of an individual’s sincerely held religious belief. This process is part of Cornell's commitment to diversity and nondiscrimination, in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion, and the New York State Human Rights Law.

Reasonable accommodations are determined on an individual basis, and may include (but are not limited to) providing an employee leave for religious observances, providing a time and/or place to pray, and/or providing the flexibility to wear religious attire. Other examples of accommodating an employee's religious beliefs include scheduling changes, voluntary substitutions of shifts or hours with a supervisor’s or department chair's approval, job reassignments, and lateral transfers.

Decision Process

See University Policy 6.13.8. Faculty, staff, and student employees are asked to initiate requests for any desired religious-related workplace accommodation by contacting their supervisor or department chair in a timely manner (at least 30 days in advance of the event, if possible); be willing to make available any documentation related to the tenets of the religious practice or belief that supports the request; complete the Cornell Request for Religious Accommodation form (pdf)  and submit it to their supervisor or department chair; and cooperate with their supervisor's or department chair's good faith efforts to accommodate their practice or belief.

Supervisors and department chairs are asked to discuss the basis of the employee’s request with the employee, exercise good faith in making decisions regarding requests for religious-related workplace accommodation, and help make an agreed-upon accommodation effective. 

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 or unit
  • the ability of the individual to perform the essential functions of the position if the accommodation is granted.

Supervisors and department chairs should consult with the AVP for the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX (OIETIX) in the event that a request may be denied. In the event that the faculty or staff member disagrees with the determination and/or proposed accommodation, they may contact the OIETIX or the University Ombuds for assistance.



Cornell University has an enduring commitment to supporting equality of employment opportunity by affirming the values of diversity and inclusiveness. This commitment includes embracing religious diversity. As part of this commitment, the university will make good faith efforts to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee's sincerely-held religious belief, unless the university believes such an accommodation would create an undue hardship or is contrary to the university's commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. View Policy 16.13.8 Religious Accommodation.


You may contact your HR representative for guidance or the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX at 607-255-2242 or for additional information or questions.