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Season’s Greetings: Texas Law and Religious Holidays

By Dan Atkerson on December 02, 2015

Image of two young businessmen using touchpad at meetingDecember is a very busy month for many religions. Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa all have very important religious holidays this month. What does Texas employment law have to say about religious holiday observance?

Texas Law and Religious Holidays

  • Most states, including Texas, do not require employers to observe religious holidays or offer paid time off for holidays.
  • Employers with 15 or more employees are subject to religious discrimination laws that require them to allow employees with religious convictions to take time off to observe religious customs unless it will cause undue hardship on the business.
  • Texas payday laws force employers to honor their company policies regarding holidays, so if company policy allows employees to take time off for holidays, then employers will be legally bound to that policy.
  • Paid holiday hours do not count toward “hours worked” for overtime or FMLA eligibility.

Religious Discrimination During the Holidays

For employees with serious religious convictions, employers may be required to make certain accommodations to allow them time off. This may include:
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Permitting employees to trade shifts
  • Allowing employees to work through lunch and leave early
  • Offering longer shifts for employees to make up hours
  • Granting unpaid leave for religious observance
Unless the aforementioned accommodations cause undue hardship, which includes:
  • Violation of employment contract
  • Significant disturbance to business function
  • More than moderate monetary loss

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