5 Tips for Addressing Religion During the Hiring Process

In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, what do recruiting managers need to know.

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By Heather R. Huhman • Aug 8, 2014 Originally published Aug 8, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court enables family-owned businesses to refuse to cover contraception costs in their employees' health insurance plan if doing so conflicts with the owner's beliefs, according to The Washington Post.

Employers should familiarize themselves with laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their religious views.

Although employers must respect the religious views of job candidates and employees, they aren't protected from questions about their religious policies. In other words, candidates can freely ask hiring managers about the company's religious beliefs.

Here are five tips for hiring managers about how to address religious beliefs during the hiring process:

Related: Supreme Court: Hobby Lobby Can't Be Forced to Buy Contraceptive Coverage

1. Be honest and transparent.

Honesty and transparency must be a top priority during the hiring process. If religion is a core value of the company's ownership and this influences the culture, then hiring managers should express these values during the hiring process.

For example, if an owner's religious values prompt the company to not include certain health care benefits that most people consider routine, candidates deserve to know the corporate stance so they can decide whether they want to work there.

2. Clarify the religious values in marketing materials.

Job seekers and candidates frequently ask questions about the employer's benefits and culture during the hiring process. It would be prudent of employers with strong religious views to state them clearly in marketing materials.

Incorporate wording on the company's career website regarding policies about religion. This can help prospective candidates gain clarity before they decide to apply for a job with the organization.

Include the company's religious stance in job ads, too. This helps job seekers make a better decision earlier in the process on whether the position would fit their personal and professional needs.

Related: How Letting Go and Connecting With Faith Saved My Business

3. Be prepared to discuss the candidate's questions.

During the interview process, if a hiring manager feels uncomfortable answering a candidate's question about their personal religious beliefs, it's OK to decline to answer.

It's quite possible the hiring manager doesn't share the organization's beliefs. But a manager should be prepared to talk about the company's core beliefs and values.

4. Be consistent during the interview process.

Use the same procedure every time when interviewing candidates. This way, if an allegation of discrimination arises, the organization can definitively say the same process is followed for every candidate.

Also, avoid giving answers to different people. Have an answer prepared for when candidates ask about the company's religious beliefs.

Avoid being the first one to bring up religion and refrain from asking candidates about their religious beliefs.

5. Build a relationship with a labor attorney.

It's a good idea to have an ongoing relationship with a labor attorney who can provide legal advice when needed. Employers don't need to put a labor attorney on retainer, but have a relationship with one so that human resources staffers can run things by him or her when needed.

How does your organization deal with religion during the hiring process?

Related: What Part Does Religion Play In Gender Roles at Work?

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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