AmI required todisclose my religious beliefsin order to keep a related religious facial piercing?

UPDATED: Jan 23, 2011

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AmI required todisclose my religious beliefsin order to keep a related religious facial piercing?

I have a nose stud and it has spiritual and emotional meaning. I will stand behind that it is religious related. Facial piercings are against company policy, however it was there before my hiring, and for the entire year and almost 4 months since. It has never before been an issue. I have to declare my religion in order to keep it but I’m uncomfortable having to define myself religiously to hostile supervisors. I’m already feeling judged and I don’t want to expose my personal beliefs any further then necessary. How much am I required to share? I work for a national retailer as an overnight stocker.

Asked on January 23, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deals with many religious employment discrimination matters and while there is much case law, every ruling is different dependant on the circumstances of the particular discrimination. With your matter (nose piercing) and your description as a spiritual and emotional, it doesn't connote religious discrimination.  In other words, it cannot simply have a connection to you without a religious component because then it won't qualify as a religious matter.  One point in your field though is you indicate you are an overnight stocker of merchandise, which means your exposure to customers is little to none.  Therefore, if it is an image the company is trying to promote for its customers, it is not like you would be running into issues. Therefore, before you go any further with what you are required to share, think about the following. 1) Most states follow employment at will laws, which means you can be fired any time with or without cause, as long as it is not discriminatory. 2) You need to ensure your reason for a nose piercing is actually religious and you may need to show which religion (think of the tons of cases where Muslim women wear hijabs on their heads). 3) You may need to consult with the EEOC before you move forward with the former.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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