What is the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act?
Last September, Governor Edmund G. Brown signed the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act. The new law, in effect since January 1, 2013, extends religious protections under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
What amendments did the California Religious Freedom Act put in place?
- The definition of “religious belief, observance or practice” now includes religious dress and grooming practices. This includes: wearing or carrying religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, artifacts, forms of head, facial or body hair, or other items that are part of observing one's religion.
- An accommodation is considered unreasonable if it requires segregation from other employees or the public.
- Courts must apply the state definition of “undue hardship” in regards to accommodating an individual's religious beliefs. This means an employer would have to prove that it requires significant difficulty or expense in order to show “undue hardship”.
As a result of the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act, employers should review and update their policies. This includes revising dress codes.
If you have any questions about the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act or about a situation you are experiencing at work, please call us toll free at 888-500-8469 or locally (Los Angeles, CA area) at 818-990-8300.