KUMC Religious Accommodations Policy
The purpose of this policy is to provide procedures for individuals to request accommodations when their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances interfere or conflict with employment or academic policies, practices or requirements.
All members of the KUMC campus community (faculty, staff, residents, fellows, students, and applicants for employment or admission).
University of Kansas Medical Center is committed to providing an academic and work environment that is respectful of the religious diversity of its students and employees. In furtherance of that commitment, the University will make good faith efforts to provide reasonable religious accommodations to those whose sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances conflict with University policies, procedures or other employment or academic requirements. Such accommodations must not fundamentally alter the integrity of the University’s mission, affect the University’s commitment to patient care, or otherwise create an undue hardship.
Procedures for Seeking Religious Accommodations
KU Medical Center’s accommodation process establishes a system of open communication with students and employees to specifically discuss and take action to reasonably accommodate student and employee needs. Students seeking a religious accommodation should complete the accommodation request form and submit it, along with any supporting documentation, to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for their school. Employees seeking a religious accommodation should also complete the accommodation request form and submit it, and any supporting documentation, to Human Resources. KU Medical Center will provide reasonable accommodation for religious observances and requirements when students and employees bring such matters to KU Medical Center’s attention and a reasonable accommodation can be identified. A reasonable accommodation is one that eliminates the conflict between a student or employee’s beliefs or practices and program or job requirements, without causing an undue hardship to KU Medical Center.
Accommodation requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and in consideration of such factors as: the fundamental requirements of the applicable academic program and/or technical standards, cost, the essential functions of an individual’s job, the duties of others in the department or job group, any effects of the accommodation on the department, co-workers or academic program, the duration of the accommodation request, and the availability of alternative accommodations. The approval or denial of the request will be communicated to the requester, via e-mail, by the appropriate Associate Dean or Human Resources representative within 10 business days. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accommodation requested (duration, type, setting), it may be necessary for the individual to submit a separate or supplemental accommodation request each time the conflict arises.
Requests to observe a particular holiday or participate in a date-specific practice should be made 30 days in advance. Requests submitted within 30 days of the date must include an explanation for the delayed submission. Requests to accommodate on-going practices or observances should be made upon admission or hire or as soon as possible in advance of the needed accommodation. Approval of a request is not automatic but will be determined as described below.
1. Students: The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate timely requests for absences associated with religious observances. Upon receipt of an accommodation request and any supporting materials, the Associate Dean will review the information and may discuss the impact, implementation or feasibility of the accommodation with the student’s program director. The Associate Dean will then provide the student notice of approval or of any alternatively approved accommodation. It will be the student’s responsibility to provide the approved accommodation notice to the faculty members affected. If the accommodation request cannot be approved, the Associate Dean will provide notice of the reason(s) for denying the request.
Having an approved absence does not excuse the student from being responsible for the information shared or expectations set during the missed class(es). Students are responsible for obtaining the materials and information provided during any missed class(es). Additionally, the student must work with the faculty member(s) to arrange for any make-up work or examinations that were missed due to the approved absence. Make-up work or exams must be equivalent to and intrinsically no more difficult than the original examination, assignment or exercise.
2. Employees: The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate an employee’s requests for absences which may include allowing flexible arrival or departure times, allowing flexible work breaks, considering schedule substitutions with colleagues of substantially similar qualifications, or providing other reasonable adjustments to their regular work hours. Upon receipt of a request, a person designated in Human Resources to review accommodation requests will review the submitted information and may discuss the impact, implementation or feasibility of the accommodation with an administrator/manager from the employee’s department. Human Resources will communicate notice of the approval or of any alternatively approved accommodation to the employee and the employee’s supervisor. It will be the responsibility of the employee and their supervisor to coordinate the implementation of the accommodation.
B. Clinical Rotations
Students on clinical rotations may request an absence to observe a religious holiday from the appropriate Associate Dean and must also inform the director or coordinator responsible for placing the student. Details of the absence will be worked out directly between the student and their director/coordinator on an individual basis, following approval of the request by the Associate Dean. Modifications to schedules (including breaks for prayer), will be supported as long as these requests do not fundamentally alter the requirements of the clinical rotation, require substantial program modification, or pose safety risks to patients. Allotted non-work days may need to be used to allow for schedule adjustments or to make up missed time which results from religious holidays or other religious-related absences. Students should make such requests for accommodation as soon as possible after the student’s clinical rotation schedule is known or, at the latest, at the beginning of a course or clerkship.
C. Patient Care
1. Students: A student may request to be excused from participating in specific health care and/or research procedures or other educational experiences where such care or experiences presents a conflict with the student’s religious beliefs. Aspects of care and education that might raise a conflict could include withdrawal of life support treatment, termination of pregnancy, or participating in research studies. The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate these requests unless doing so would impose undue hardship or negatively affect patient care. Requests for exclusion must not undermine or violate the University’s non-discrimination policy and commitment to respecting and treating all persons fairly without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information.
At least 30 days prior to the start of the semester or rotation involving the specific health care, procedures, or experiences for which the exclusion is sought, or as soon as the conflict is known if within 30 days, the student must submit a request for an accommodation with the appropriate Associate Dean and provide notice to their faculty chair. The request must include the specific aspects of care from which the student seeks to be excused and the reasons for making the request. The Associate Dean will discuss the request with the involved faculty to determine whether an exclusion or alternative educational arrangement can be provided without eliminating or fundamentally altering academic requirements or technical standards.
Students cannot opt out of participating in educational experiences that involve emergency health care. Additionally, by participating in the care of patients during emergency situations, students will not be exempted from being evaluated on educational content and must demonstrate (via means other than the actual procedures for which the exclusion is sought) the expected level of competence.
Notice of approval of the exclusion or of any alternative arrangements being provided will be communicated to the student and faculty. If an exclusion from the participation cannot be granted and no reasonable alternative arrangements can be made and the request is denied, the student will be notified of the reason(s) for denying the request.
2. Employees: An employee may request to be relieved from participating in an aspect of a patient’s care or treatment in situations where the prescribed care or treatment presents a conflict with the employee’s religious beliefs. Aspects of care and treatment that might raise a conflict could include withdrawal of life support treatment, termination of pregnancy, or participating in research studies. The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate these requests unless doing so would impose undue hardship or negatively affect patient care. Requests for exclusion must not undermine or violate the University’s non-discrimination policy and commitment to respecting and treating all persons fairly without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information.
As soon as a course of care or treatment is prescribed, resulting in a conflict, the employee should submit an accommodation request to Human Resources and provide notice of the request to their clinical director and to the Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education if the employee is a resident. The request must include the specific aspects of care from which the employee seeks to be excused and the reasons for making the request. A person from Human Resources designated to review resident accommodation requests will work with GME and the clinical care team to determine if alternative staffing arrangements can be made. Reasonable accommodations may include, changing the employee’s schedule, reassigning the patient to an equally competent employee with the appropriate skill level to adequately address the patient’s needs, transferring the requesting employee to another department, or some other reasonable arrangement.
The requesting employee is responsible for providing appropriate patient care until alternate arrangements can be made. Additionally, the requesting employee must agree to continue providing care in any emergency circumstances. Requests will not be granted if there are any indications that doing so would negatively affect the care of the patient.
Notice of approval of the request and the alternative arrangements being provided will be communicated to the employee and the employee’s supervisor.
KU Med Center is dedicated to advancing the science of saving lives through excellence in research and recognizes that some aspects of cutting-edge research may conflict with religious beliefs. The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests by students and employees to be relieved from participating in particular research studies or procedures involving research that conflicts with the individual’s religious beliefs. Requests to be excused from or to discontinue participation in an entire research program may be found unreasonable.
Students requesting to be excused from participating in a research study or procedure should follow the process outlined above under “patient care.”
Employees requesting to be excused should submit an accommodation request as soon as they are assigned to participate in research that will result in a conflict or as soon as they foresee a conflict arising. The employee should submit the accommodation request to Human Resources. The request must include the specific aspects of the research study or procedure from which the employee seeks to be excused and the reasons for making the request. A person from Human Resources designated to review accommodation requests will work with the principal investigator and the employee’s supervisor (if someone other than the PI) to determine if alternative staffing arrangements can be made.
Individuals granted leave from participation may still be responsible for providing care to a research participant before or after the procedure. Individuals must also continue to provide care to a participant during emergency situations.
E. Religious attire, grooming, prayer and other practices
The University prohibits religious discrimination and recognizes the importance of not inhibiting religious practices of students and employees. The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests for specific religious attire, dress or grooming, quiet spaces or time for prayer, or to engage in other religious practices that are a requirement of religious observance. Religious attire does not extend to cultural or traditional dress which is not a requirement of religious observance.
A student or employee seeking an accommodation to observe religious practices should submit a request to the applicable Associate Dean (for students) or to Human Resources (for employees). For students, the Associate Dean will provide notice of approval or of an alternative arrangement to the student. The student and their faculty will be responsible for coordinating implementation of the accommodation. For employees, Human Resources will provide notice of approval or of an alternative arrangement to the employee and the employee’s supervisor. The employee and their supervisor will be responsible for coordinating implementation of the accommodation. If the religious practice or observance cannot be accommodated, the individual will be notified of the reason(s) for denying the request.
F. Policy Against Retaliation
KU Medical Center prohibits retaliation against students and employees requesting an accommodation, participating in an approved accommodation, or otherwise engaging in protected conduct under this policy. Any person who violates this anti- retaliation provision may be subject to disciplinary and/or corrective action.
G. Non-Discrimination Policy
KU Medical Center’s Non-Discrimination Policy prohibits discrimination based on religion, among other protected categories. Individuals who are denied an accommodation and believe that the denial is due to discriminatory animus towards their religion, as opposed to an undue hardship or other legitimate reason, may contact the office of Equal Opportunity & Academic Compliance to pursue a complaint of discrimination.
Violations of the Reasonable Accommodations Policy may lead to disciplinary or remedial action as specified under any applicable University or campus policies and procedures.
Associate Vice Chancellor, Compliance
University of Kansas Medical Center
Mail Stop # 7004
Kansas City, KS 66160
Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Academic Compliance
Religion: A belief, practice, or observance that includes moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, that is sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Social, political, or economic philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not religious beliefs or practice.
Religious Accommodation: A reasonable accommodation is one that eliminates the conflict between a student or employee’s religious beliefs or practices and the program or job requirements, without causing an undue hardship to KU Medical Center. A reasonable religious accommodation may include, for example, time for prayer during the work day, the ability to attend religious events or observe a religious holiday, allowing religious dress, grooming or symbols, and other modifications to University policies or procedures that are necessary to allow for a student’s or employee’s participation in their religious beliefs or practices that are reasonable and do not cause an undue hardship.
Undue Hardship: An undue hardship may exist if the accommodation poses more than minimal expense or burden on University resources, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other students or employees, fundamentally alters the essential functions of a job or academic requirements, interferes with the integrity of the University’s mission, affects the University’s commitment to patient care, or violates or substantially restricts University policies or procedures.
10/25/2017: Added accommodation for employees participating in research.
08/18/2017: Uploaded to the Policy Library.