Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of religion. This means that an employer cannot treat persons of different religions differently or appear to favor one religion over another. As such, employers should be mindful of varying cultural differences among their employees. While their are not as many religious holidays during the summer months, during 2015, the month of Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims from June 17 – July 16. During this period, Muslims must fast between sunrise and sunset. Keeping that in mind, the following tips may serve as helpful reminders to employers:
- Keep décor neutral, not religious-centered: In the office, unless you allow all types of religious symbols, its best to decorate with neutral themes.
- Give peas a chance! Some religious observances (such as Ramadan) restrict diets or require fasting during certain periods. Do what you can to avoid holiday parties during times of fasting and offer food options that are sensitive to various religions and nationalities that are likely to be represented at your party.
- Music makes the world go round: Music sets the tone of the party, and if done wrong your party can have two left feet. Music can be tough, especially with a workforce of varying ages, cultural backgrounds and/or religious beliefs.
- Foster an atmosphere of inclusion not cliques: Take steps to keep employees from hanging out with their workplace friends. Encourage employees to mix and mingle by assigning seats randomly and/or have everyone engage in an activity, like a gift exchange. Most importantly, make sure everyone feels welcome and included.