Accommodating respectful religious expression in the workplace

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Agencies should exercise this authority evenhandedly and with restraint, and with regard for the fact that Americans are used to expressions of disagreement on controversial subjects, including religious ones.

Agencies are not required, however, to permit employees to use work time to pursue religious or ideological agendas.

(b) One employee invites another employee to attend worship services at her church, though she knows that the invitee is a devout adherent of another faith.

Some religions encourage adherents to spread the faith at every opportunity, a duty that can encompass the adherent's workplace.

As a general matter, proselytizing is as entitled to constitutional protection as any other form of speech -- as long as a reasonable observer would not interpret the expression as government endorsement of religion.

(b) An agency may restrict all posters, or posters of a certain size, in private work areas, or require that such posters be displayed facing the employee, and not on common walls; but the employer typically cannot single out religious or anti-religious posters for harsher or preferential treatment. Employees should be permitted to engage in religious expression with fellow employees, to the same extent that they may engage in comparable nonreligious private expression, subject to reasonable and content-neutral standards and restrictions: such expression should not be restricted so long as it does not interfere with workplace efficiency.

Though agencies are entitled to regulate such employee speech based on reasonable predictions of disruption, they should not restrict speech based on merely hypothetical concerns, having little basis in fact, that the speech will have a deleterious effect on workplace efficiency.

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