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CA Governor Jerry Brown Signs Bill to Ban Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

November 5, 2012

In recent California labor and employment news, there have been a number of religious discrimination lawsuits in the California workplace--where employees have sued their employers for harassment and discrimination based on their religious beliefs and practices.

According to the Sacramento Bee, in 2011, the state of California faced over 500 cases of religious discrimination. Vincent Howard has reported on a number of these religious discrimination lawsuits in Howard Law's Santa Ana, California employment lawyers blog, a number of which discuss discrimination based on the Muslim religion, where Muslim employees claim to have been discriminated against for wearing religious garments like a hijab, or headscarf. In the past year companies such as AT&T, Disney, and Abercrombie & Fitch have all faced lawsuits accusing employers of discrimination against the Muslim religion, and for not allowing employees to wear headscarves.

Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that fight religious discrimination in the workplace, especially against Muslims and Sikhs in the golden state. Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, that ensures that under California law, employers are restricted from discriminating against employees who wear religious clothing, such as turbans or hijabs. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013, and also prohibits the segregation of the employees from customers or the public.

According to Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) who introduced the bill, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act affords workers equal protection who wear religious clothing or hairstyles--and stops employers from separating their employees from other co-workers, or from keeping Muslim employees out of sight from the public as a means of accommodation. The new law requires that employers reasonably accommodate their employees' religious practices, which includes dressing and grooming as protected observances, unless this involves a significant expense or difficulty to the company.

Brown also recently signed Senate Bill 1540, that requires the State Board of Education to consider revising the current curriculum in California high schools to include history, theology and traditions of Sikhism in California.

As Vincent Howard frequently reports, under federal law, it is also illegal to discriminate against individuals who belong to traditional and organized religious, and who sincerely hold religious, ethical or moral beliefs in any aspect of employment. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required by federal law to give reasonable accommodations to an employee's religious beliefs and practices that allow employees to practice their religion--unless it causes burden or hardship on the employer's business operations. Employers must also give reasonable accommodations to an employee's appearance or grooming practices, which includes wearing coverings or headscarves, or wearing certain kinds of hairstyles or facial hair.

In cities throughout Orange County, California contact Vincent Howard today, for a free consultation about religious discrimination and your California and federal labor and employment rights.

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills against Religious Discrimination, The Sacramento Bee, September 9, 2012

California governor restricts discrimination against religious garb, The Clause.org, September 26, 2012

Bill protects religious garb, grooming in the workplace, The Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC): Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)

Related Blog Posts:

Former Disneyland Employee Files Religious Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit Over Headscarf, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 30, 2012

Jury Awards $5 Million to Muslim Woman in AT&T Religious Discrimination Lawsuit, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 15, 2012

California Muslim Alleges Religious Harassment and Racial Discrimination in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 5, 2012

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace and Reasonable Accommodation, California Employment Lawyers Blog , August 18, 2011

Abercrombie Hit With Another Religious Discrimination Lawsuit over Hijab, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 7, 2011

EEOC Hits Abercrombie With Another Religious Discrimination Suit over "Look" of Muslim Teen Applicant, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 14, 2010

Muslim Files EEOC Discrimination Complaint Over Disney's Costume Policy--in Order to Wear Hijab, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 26, 2010

CAIR-CA Report Shows Rise in Harassment and Employment Discrimination Against Muslims, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 24, 2009

Muslim Housekeeper Fired for Wearing Head Scarf--Wins Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 21, 2009

EEOC Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Abercrombie & Fitch--Muslim Teen Denied Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 23, 2009