Procedure for Requesting Religious Accommodation and Appeals


Scope and Purpose

Maryville University is committed to ensuring that the religious beliefs and practices of all community members are respected and will make, on request, a reasonable accommodation for such observances when that accommodation does not create an undue hardship on the business operations of the University.

This procedure applies to all students, faculty and staff of Maryville University.

Policy

Discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of a protected status is prohibited at Maryville University. Persons who engage in such conduct are subject to discipline up to and including termination or dismissal. Please review the Policy Against Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation and Complaint Resolution Procedures and Notice of Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity for further information.

Key Definitions

Religion

Includes all aspect of religious observance and practice as well as sincerely held religious beliefs. Religion includes not only traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, but also sincerely held religious practices or beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, or only subscribed to by a small number of people.

Belief

A belief is “religious” if it is a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies a place in the life of the believer that is parallel to a place in the life of the believer traditionally fulfilled by a god-like figure.

Religious accommodation

A reasonable modification in the work or academic environment that enables a student or employee to practice or otherwise observe a sincerely held religious practice or belief that does not place an undue hardship on the University. A reasonable religious accommodation may include, but is not limited to: time for prayer during a work day, or requesting to take a particular day or time period off to attend religious events or observe a religious holiday.

Undue Hardship

Includes any accommodation that would impose more than a minimal burden on the operations of the university. The determination of undue hardship is dependent on the facts of each individual situation, and will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Procedural Steps for Students

Maryville University recognizes the variety of cultural and religious diversity expressed by our student body. The University grants students excused absences from class or other organized academic activities for observance of sincerely held religious practices or beliefs as a recognized religious accommodation, unless the accommodation(s) would create an undue hardship.

Students requesting a religious accommodation should make the request directly to their instructor with as much notice as possible. It is highly recommended that students seeking religious accommodations inform their instructor, no later than the third week of class, or one week before the absence if the date of the requested religious accommodation occurs during the first three weeks of class.

Please note that being absent from class or other educational responsibilities does not excuse students from keeping up with any information shared or expectations set during the missed class(es). Students are responsible for obtaining the materials and information provided during any class(es) missed. Students can work directly with their instructor to determine a schedule for completing missed assignments.

Guidance for Faculty in Responding to Student Request

Instructors are strongly encouraged to make reasonable accommodations in response to completing work missed due to observation of a religious practice or belief.

Instructors should respect the privacy associated with requests for religious accommodation(s) and should make every effort to keep such matters confidential. Instructors should not ask students to provide proof of their religious practices or beliefs.

Students should be given the opportunity to complete missed assignments as appropriate, or exams that are equivalent and intrinsically no more difficult than the initial exam or assignment.

Students who receive an exemption on religious grounds cannot be penalized for failing to attend class on the days exempted. The instructor may, however, appropriately respond if the student fails to satisfactorily complete any alternative assignment(s) or examination(s) offered in place of the initial assignment(s) or exam(s).

Procedural Steps for Employees

Maryville University employees requesting a religious accommodation should make the request directly to their supervisor with as much notice as possible, but not less than forty-eight (48) hours before the anticipated absence. Employees may be required to use accrued time (vacation or personal) as part of the religious accommodation.

If the supervisor determines that the request may pose an undue hardship for the department and/or interfere with the employee’s essential job functions, or if the supervisor otherwise has questions or concerns about the accommodation request, the supervisor should contact the Director of Human Resources for assistance at 314.529.9478.

Appeals

Members of the Maryville Community who believe they have been wrongfully denied religious accommodation(s) may appeal the denial in writing to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, not more than fifteen (15) days after the denial through a formal Letter of Appeal. The formal Letter of Appeal may be submitted by email, mail, or in person to a staff member in the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.

The Letter of Appeal should include the following information:

  • Name
  • Telephone number
  • Maryville email address
  • Statement including: (1) the requested religious accommodation; (2) date and/or time of accommodation; (3) reason for the requested accommodation; (4) a summary of all communications or actions taken in relation to the accommodation; and (5) any background information and/or supporting documentation deemed relevant to the review.
  • Signature of the employee or student submitting the Letter of Appeal

Upon receipt of a Formal Letter of Appeal, the Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance or their designee (Reviewer), will promptly and individually contact all involved parties or University Official and/or request all relevant materials or information.

Thereafter, the Reviewer will evaluate all statements or information collected, consult with relevant University Officials, and prepare and transmit a written decision. The written decision will determine whether the decision to deny the religious accommodation will be upheld, modified, or overturned, as well as the rationale supporting the decision. The written decision will be communicated in a timely manner, but not later than thirty (30) days after receipt of the Letter of Appeal, to all relevant parties.

Transmittal of the Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance’s written determination concludes the appeal process for religious accommodation(s), and there will be no further means of appeal through the University.

Contact Information

Members of the Maryville community who have concerns regarding requested religious accommodation(s) or this procedure may contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance for assistance.

Dr. Claudia Lyerly
Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator
Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance
clyerly@maryville.edu
314.529.6721

Portia Britt, Esq.
Institutional Equity Officer and Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance
pbritt@maryville.edu
314.529.6722