Member Advisory – Guidance on Religious Accommodation Requests
09/24/2021 - Written by Chris B
How to submit a religious accommodation request asking to be exempt from the vaccine requirement based on a sincerely held religious belief:
- When to submit an accommodation request. Submit the accommodation request as soon as possible! The deadline to start the vaccination process in order to meet the deadline to be fully vaccinated is rapidly approaching.
- What to submit. Prepare an email explaining the reason for the accommodation request and also fill out the CBP Religious Accommodation Request Form.
- Interim Accommodation. Your request should include a request for an interim or temporary accommodation of not being required to comply with the current deadline to be fully vaccinated so you can maintain status quo (not have to start getting vaccinated) while your accommodation request is being considered. If your accommodation request is denied, you would need additional time to comply with the vaccine requirement, a minimum of 14 days for the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine, 35 days for the Pfizer two-dose vaccine and 42 days for the Moderna two-dose vaccine, plus a couple of days to get the vaccine scheduled and administered. If you do not get confirmation of this additional time as an interim accommodation then you may face disciplinary action for not complying with the deadline to be fully vaccinated even if your accommodation request is still under review.
- Where to file. Send the email and the completed CBP Religious Accommodation Request Form to CBPReasonableAccommodation@cbp.dhs.gov. Send an email copy to your immediate supervisor at the same time. Keep a copy for your records.
- What’s next. Expect to be contacted by your immediate supervisor, a DCR officer or someone from the Privacy and Diversity Office regarding your accommodation request. They may request additional information from you and will likely set up a time to discuss your request and/or other possible accommodations, this is called an interactive dialog and is a normal part of the process that you must participate in and cooperate with. Your request will likely also be discussed with someone in your supervisory chain of command. According to CBP’s Policy, you will receive a written decision approving or denying the request.
- Guidance. Information regarding what constitutes a religious belief, what can be accommodated and how, your rights and the Agency’s rights, etc. is contained in guidance prepared by the EEOC. Section 12: Religious Discrimination. You should review Sections 12-1 and 12-IV prior to submitting your request as well as the CBP Religious Accommodation Directive.
- Appeal. If your accommodation request is denied, and you believe the denial was incorrect, you need to follow the appeal rights outlined in the denial letter and CBP’s policy which includes filing an EEO Complaint within 45 days of the denial.