Jan 1, 2013
The California Workplace Religious Freedom Law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown to protect the right of workers and job applicants to wear religious clothing, hairstyles and accessories without fear of discrimination.
Assembly Bill 1964, introduced by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), provides employment-related religious freedom protections for beards, turbans, hijabs, burkas, yarmulkes, crosses and other religious clothing, accessories and hairstyles.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate based on sex, race, color, religion or birthplace for employment, but an increasing number of lawsuits are being filed against employers exploiting loopholes.
The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act was initially written to close such loopholes for the sake of Sikhs and Muslims, but adherents of all established religions will enjoy equal protection under the new state law.
Employers statewide will now be required by law to reasonably accommodate workers' religious beliefs or observances unless such accommodation would impose an "undue hardship" on employers.
The significant difficulty or expense comprising an "undue hardship" claimed by an employer must be verifiable.
Under the new California law, an employee accommodation is not considered reasonable if it forces a hired worker to be segregated from customers or removed from public view because of religious appearance.
The expanded religious definition provided by Assembly Bill 1964 now causes a vital legislative section to now read:
"Religious belief or observance, as used in this section, includes, but is not limited to, observance of a Sabbath of other religious holy days or days, and reasonable time necessary for travel prior and subsequent to a religious observance, and the practice of wearing religious clothing or a religious hairstyle."
The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act was signed into law by the governor of the most diverse State of California, where 113 languages are spoken daily. The new law is now in effect.