[Excerpt] Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination by certain employers. Among other things, Title VII generally prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of religion. Title VII prohibits discriminatory treatment of employees on the basis of their religious beliefs and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious practices. Religious organizations, however, may be exempt from some of the prohibitions of Title VII.
Congress regularly has proposed legislation that would amend the definition of religion under Title VII and has introduced proposals to clarify which actions would qualify as religious discrimination under the act. At times, legislative proposals that would not directly affect Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination raise questions related to the protections provided for religion. In other cases, legislative proposals incorporate protections offered by Title VII into new civil rights bills.
This report reviews the scope of Title VII as it applies to religion and religious organizations and the requirements of the anti-discrimination protections and the accommodations provision. It also analyzes the exemptions available to religious organizations for the non-discrimination rules. The report also addresses the protections based on Title VII’s religious exemption that have been included in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) proposals from previous sessions of Congress. A substantially similar version of previous ENDA proposals is expected to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress.