New Law Clarifies Religious Accommodation Requirements

Posted on Wed, Sep 26, 2012

Governor Edmund G. Brown signed a bill that clarifies religious accommodation requirements for employers under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Existing state law protects employees from discrimination based on religious beliefs and also requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious belief or observance, unless doing so causes an undue hardship.

The new law, AB 1964 (Yamada; D-Davis), clarifies that FEHA covers a religious dress practice (such as a head covering or jewelry) or a religious grooming practice (such as a hair style or facial hair) as a belief or observance.

Enforcement agencies have recently focused on employers who segregate employees wearing religious dress, such as head coverings, from jobs that involve public contact. Such employer actions, based on perceived biases or customer preferences, are unlawful (see HR Watchdog’s Religious Discrimination Suit Shows Need for Employer Awareness blog post).

Keep checking back for complete update on new 2013 employment laws. We will discuss AB 1964 and other new laws in greater detail, along with best practices.


Author: Gail Cecchettini Whaley

HR Watchdog, HRCalifornia’s Employment Law Blog, © California Chamber of Commerce

Tags: FEHA, AB 1964, employer requirement, Fair Employment and Housing Act, religious accommodation, religious observance, HR Allen Consulting Services, HR Informant