The circumstances, images and fallout related to September 11, 2001 have caused many Americans to revisit their spiritual beliefs in attempt to process the horrific events of such an unimaginable day (Smith, 2003). In the years since the Fall of 2001, employees have developed an increasing desire to integrate their personal spirituality and religious beliefs with their professional lives (Cunningham, 2010). Managers are now faced with the difficult task of accommodating the varying spiritual beliefs of their workforce while tactfully mitigating religion-based issues in accordance with Title VII.
When Maya failed to consume the majority of her dish after announcing her hunger at a recent business luncheon with colleagues, many were confused about her behavior after she went on to order desert. Maya’s choice not to eat the chicken and mashed potatoes accompanying her lunch could have been the result of a number of factors including: Maya’s choice to live a vegan lifestyle, specific food avoidances which include chicken and potatoes, serious allergies to ingredients used in the preparation of both items or religious beliefs related to the consumption or preparation of the food. Because Maya’s behavior was not connected to her personal work performance or her coworkers’ perception of her performance, management could choose to disregard the concerns of the other employees unless Maya elicits a conversation regarding her decision not to eat the food items. If Maya does feel that she owes her coworkers an explanation, a brief meeting with each would enable her to relay the circumstances behind her behavior. If her decision not to eat the food items was religion-based, Maya will likely need to be prepared to face questions related to her beliefs. Maya can also choose to ignore her coworkers concerns and avoid the conversation altogether. If Maya’s coworkers find her behavior so concerning that they want to peruse a conversation about it, they should look to have a brief discussion in private. If Maya elects not to delve into the rational behind her behavior, the coworkers will have no choice but to move on from the situation.
Food Consumption in the Workplace
From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, the Catholic religion observes Lent, which is marked by many religious practices including self-denial. During this period management and coworkers may experience their peers choosing not to consume sweets, junk food, coffee or alcohol. Management should be prepared at this time to field questions or concerns related to the behavior of employees observing Lent if they choose not to participate, for example, in employee activities such as the morning coffee run or afterhours happy hour.
After Jenny declined to be part of her new department’s softball team despite her colligate softball success, many coworkers characterized her as not being a team player without considering the rationale behind her decision....