Can an Employer Specify Religion in a Job Posting?

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Applicants for employment often wonder if it’s legal when an employer specifies that they want candidates of a certain religion in a job posting. The answer is that it depends on the organization and the job.

When an Employer Can List Religion as a Job Qualification

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees based on religion.

 The provisions of this law govern all aspects of the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process.  The law also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, harassing workers or limiting their advancement based on religion once they are on the job.

However, religious organizations are exempt from certain aspects of Title VII.  They can give preference to members of their own religion in the hiring process and can state this preference in a job advertisement.

Guidelines for Religious Hiring Exemptions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines religious organizations as institutions whose "purpose and character are primarily religious."

EEO guidelines for interpreting this law cite factors such as whether its articles of incorporation state a religious purpose; whether its day-to-day operations are religious; whether it is not-for-profit; and whether it is affiliated with, or supported by, a church or other religious organization as indicators of whether an organization should be considered a religious entity.

Jobs Exempt from Hiring Requirements

Even jobs which do not include religious activities are covered by this exception.  For example, a church could hire only custodians who are members of their own religion and reject candidates of a different religious persuasion.

This exception does not allow religious organizations to specify religions other than their own as a job requirement.

 Religious organizations are still prohibited from discriminating against job candidates based on age, race, gender, national origin or disability.

Read More: Religious Discrimination

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