Skip Navigation

Office of Institutional Equity

Religious Accommodations

As part of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination, the University makes good faith efforts to reconcile potential conflicts between an individual’s strongly held religious, spiritual or philosophical beliefs and university work or academic requirements.

What is a religious accommodation?

A reasonable religious academic/workplace accommodation is a change in the academic/work environment or in the way academics, tasks or responsibilities are customarily done that enables a student or faculty/staff[1] to participate in their religious practice or belief without undue hardship on the conduct of the University's business or operation. 

COVID-19

If you wish to submit proof of your COVID-19 vaccination or request a religious exception for the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, please do so via the University’s Vaccine Management System (VMS) that will launch on July 1, 2021. The VMS will be accessible via the myJH portal when it goes live on July 1. 

After you complete your submission, you will receive automated responses and updates from the system as your documents or exception requests are processed by the John Hopkins Exception Review Team.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact oie@jhu.edu.

Submitting a religious accommodation request

To have your request for a religious academic/workplace accommodation considered, please review the following process:

1. Recognizing a Religious Accommodation Request

The Office of Institutional Equity ("OIE") receives and reviews all religious accommodation requests, including but not limited to vaccine exception requests. The interactive process starts when a student or employee submits a religious accommodation request. Whenever possible, such requests should be submitted no less than 30 days in advance of the desired accommodation.[2] It is important for student affairs representatives, faculty, human resources, and supervisors to recognize a request and to refer the student or employee to OIE to initiate the interactive process. 

2. Gathering Information

OIE asks students and employees to complete the religious accommodation request form. This form asks for information on the specific religious belief or conviction - whether religious, spiritual, or philosophical - that is the basis of the request, as well as the requested accommodation or modification to policy, practice, or schedule. OIE will then gather the necessary information to consider the request. In some cases, OIE may need to obtain additional information and/or documentation about the student or employee's religious or spiritual practice(s) or belief(s). OIE may need to discuss the nature of the religious belief(s, practice(s), and accommodation(s) with a student or employee's spiritual leader (if applicable) or religious or philosophy scholars to address the request for an exception.

3. Exploring Religious Accommodation Options

OIE will consider reasonable religious accommodation requests on a case‐by‐case basis and consider factors, including but not limited to the:

  • Nature of the accommodation requested;
  • Fundamental requirements of the applicable academic program and/or related technical standards;
  • Essential functions of an individual's job;
  • Duties of others in the department or job group;
  • Requirements of the department or major; 
  • Duration of the request;
  • Availability of alternative accommodations;
  • Financial impact;
  • Academic impact;
  • Any undue hardship resulting from the requested accommodation; and
  • Other related factors.

OIE will endeavor to protect the requesting student or employee’s privacy in evaluating and processing the accommodation to the greatest extent possible. However, following receipt of the request, OIE will speak with a student’s faculty and/or student affairs representative, or an employee’s supervisor and/or department in order to further evaluate and/or implement the religious accommodation. The University may suggest an alternative accommodation it deems reasonable to accommodate a request. If there is more than one option, the student affairs representative or employer will balance a student or employee’s expressed preference with operational or academic considerations.

Religious accommodations can take many forms. Some examples include:

  • Permitting a student or employee to take a particular day or time period off for a religious holiday;
  • Permitting flexible scheduling; and
  • Providing a student or employee with a time and place to pray.

4. Implementing the Religious Accommodation

To communicate the final accommodation, OIE will issue in writing a religious accommodation approval letter to the employee or student, and copy those relevant individuals (i.e. student affairs representatives, faculty, managers, and/or supervisors) who participated in the interactive process.

5. Monitoring the Religious Accommodation

Because changes occur, student affairs representatives and employers may need to periodically check on the ongoing effectiveness of religious accommodations. The most effective way to monitor religious accommodations is to encourage ongoing communication.

Religious accommodations remain in effect through the date included on the approval letter unless the student or employee is notified by the University of a change. Students and employees must generally submit religious accommodation requests annually.

Student Vaccine Exception Requests:

Whenever possible, students should submit vaccine exception requests to OIE at least 30 days in advance of Pre-Entrance Health Requirement Deadlines and OIE will do its best to respond in a timely manner.  It is difficult to say with certainty how long it can take to process requests, as many factors could impact timing (i.e., volume, complexity and availability of the student for follow up questions and/or their ability to timely provide supporting documentation).  Once OIE has all supporting documentation, it will strive for a 5 business day turnaround.

Employee Flu Vaccine Exception Requests

Whenever possible, employees should submit vaccine exception requests to OIE at least 30 days in advance of Johns Hopkins Medicine Compliance Deadlines and OIE will do its best to respond in a timely manner. It is difficult to say with certainty how long it can take to process requests, as many factors could impact timing (i.e., volume, complexity and availability of the student for follow up questions and/or their ability to timely provide supporting documentation). Once OIE has all supporting documentation, it will strive for a 5 business day turnaround.

 

 [1] Faculty/staff are hereafter referred to as “employee(s).”

 [2] Students who cannot take a quiz, test, or final exam on a scheduled date due to a religious observance must inform OIE of any conflicts before the semester’s add/drop deadline, or as soon as possible after a particular assignment or examination date is announced.