Law Office of Rick Morin

(916) 333-2222

Employment Law: FEHA & Workplace Religious Dress Practices

Labor lawsuits and employment law complaints can take many forms. Discrimination claims are one common area of the law that allows businesses to be sued.

Discrimination claims in California are governed by the Fair Employment and Housing Act, commonly known as FEHA.

FEHA prohibits discrimination based upon many factors, including a person’s age, ancestry, color, marital status, national origin, religion, sex, among other factors.

A new law, AB 1964 (Yamada), took effect January 1, 2013 which includes a religious dress practice or a religious grooming practice as a belief or observance covered by the protections against religious discrimination.

AB 1964 also prohibits an employer from segregating an employee from the public or other employees based upon the employee’s religious dress practices. Existing law generally allowed such segregation under the “reasonable accommodation” doctrine. As of January 1, 2013, this is no longer the case.

The the new law does allow segregation based upon an employee’s religious dress practices under narrow circumstances, such as for health and safety requirements.

Because of this new law, employers need to be mindful of accommodations for employees with religious dress needs. This generally requires engaging in an “interactive process” with the employee to develop a reasonable accommodation if the dress practice creates a problem for the employer.

No employer wants to be accused of discrimination of any kind. These claims can be costly and can produce unfavorable publicity. Lack of awareness of new laws such as AB 1964 is no defense to an expensive discrimination lawsuit.

When faced with an employment law question regarding reasonable accommodations and FEHA, it is best to consult with a business lawyer.

Sacramento Attorney Rick Morin can answer questions regarding FEHA, discrimination claims, and AB 1964. Call the Law Office of Rick Morin at (916) 333-2222 should you have any questions about these or other employment law issues.