Yale University is committed to providing inclusive learning and workplace environments. As part of this commitment, and consistent with relevant laws and regulations regarding religious beliefs, Yale encourages faculty and managers to make good faith efforts to provide reasonable religious accommodations to faculty, staff and students who request them.
The University prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of religion. For more information, refer to the University Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment.
More detailed information about many religious holy days can be found on the Chaplain’s Office website.
Any student who is unable to attend classes on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day because of the tenets of a sincerely held religious practice should discuss with their course instructor their request to be excused from any academic activities on such particular day or days or at such particular time of day.1 Course instructors should make available to each student who is absent from academic activities because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirements which has been missed because of such absence. Students whose religious holidays are not recognized by the University’s calendar should provide the instructor or academic activity organizer with the dates they will be absent in advance of the absence.
Students requesting a religious accommodation should make the request directly to their instructor with as much notice as possible. Being absent from class or other educational responsibilities does not excuse a student 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. The student can work with the instructor to determine a schedule for making up missed work.
Guidance for Faculty in Responding to Student Requests
Course instructors are encouraged to make reasonable accommodations in response to student requests to complete work missed by absence resulting from observation of religious holidays. Such accommodations should be made in ways that do not significantly alter the requirements or learning outcomes for the course to the extent reasonably practical.
Course instructors ordinarily would not ask a student for proof that their religious practices or beliefs are sincerely held in determining a religious accommodation. Course instructors with concerns or questions regarding a student’s stated religious belief may contact the University Chaplain for additional guidance.
Examples of religious accommodations that instructors may consider include: rescheduling an exam or giving a make-up exam for the student in question; altering the time of a student’s presentation; allowing extra-credit assignments to substitute for missed class work or flexibility in assignment due dates; allowing a student to view a recording of a class session missed due to religious observance; or releasing a graduate assistant from teaching or research responsibilities on a given day.
The student should be given the opportunity to complete appropriate make-up work that is generally equivalent to a missed exam or assignment to the extent reasonably practical.
If there are concerns about a request for accommodation, the instructor may consult the University Chaplain, Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility (OIEA), or their department chair or dean for assistance and determination as to whether a reasonable accommodation can be provided.
The University considers religious accommodation requests by employees, including faculty and staff, based on the totality of the circumstances. Faculty and staff requesting a religious accommodation should make the request directly to their supervisor with as much notice as possible. Employees may be required to use accrued time (PTO) 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 their Human Resources Generalist, the University Chaplain, and/or the Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility. Supervisors are advised to consult the Office of Institutional Equity and Accessibility prior to any denial.
1 In addition, Yale College students may also request a dean’s extension from their residential college dean ( Yale College Programs of Study, H., “Work Missed During the Term.”). College deans do not have the authority to excuse attendance or participation but can postpone deadlines for work missed because of the observance of religious holy days.