Managing Religious-Based Conflicts in the Workplace

The Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, together with the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, will co-host a workshop, Managing Religious-Based Conflicts in the Workplace, for business and nonprofit leaders on December 3 from 7:30-11 a.m. with registration, a continental breakfast and networking opportunities starting at 7:30 a.m.

The program addresses management techniques, decision-making, conflict resolution and mitigation strategies for religious-based differences in the workplace. It will leverage thought leadership resources from the university and community, addressing the rise of faith-based conflicts in the workplace.

Steve Humerickhouse, director of the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity stated, “Religion is part of the value structure held by many employees; therefore, organizational leaders, from executives to human resources, must understand how to address and resolve conflict to retain a cohesive working climate. Proactive training is imperative, yet it is rarely available.”

The Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) requires reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious practice, coordinating with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting employer discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The law’s exception, to be proven by the employer, must deem undue hardship on a business directly correlated to a specific practice. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), religious-based charge receipts filed under Title VII increased more than 85 percent in a 10-year period (1999-2009), rising to $4.5 million in monetary penalties – in addition to litigation awards.

Durwin Long, assistant dean of  Executive and Professional Development at the Opus College of Business, stated, “When religious values clash, whether that involves employees or customers, any business has the potential for conflict.  Thoughtful business and nonprofit leaders understand that creating environments of inclusion – including respect for religious diversity – can prevent conflicts from erupting or provide the means for effectively addressing conflicts if they do occur.”

The workshop, jointly hosted by the Executive Education and Professional Development within the Opus College of Business and the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, will be held in room 127 of Schulze Hall on the Opus College of Business Minneapolis campus, 11th Street and Harmon Avenue.