Religious Discrimination and Accommodation

Employers in California may not treat their employees or prospective employees more or less favorably because of their religious beliefs, practices or observances. Other incidences of religious discrimination may include refusing to hire members of a certain religion, forcing employees to participate or not participate in a religious activity, not permitting employees to engage in religious expression, and imposing stricter promotion, compensation, or work requirements on members of a particular religion.

California law also imposes on the employer a duty of reasonable accommodation of employees' religious practices that conflict with an employment requirement, unless doing so would present an undue hardship for the employer. The prohibition of discrimination based on religion (and the duty to accommodate) includes religious dress and grooming practices. “Religious dress practice” is broadly construed to include “the wearing or carrying of religious clothing, hard or face coverings, jewelry, artifacts, and any other item that is part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.” Likewise, “religious grooming practice” includes “all forms of head, facial, and body hair that are part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.” The law makes clear that an accommodation by an employer is not considered “reasonable” if the employer segregates or essentially hides the employee wearing religious dress in a back office, away from other employees or the public.

Employers must also take necessary steps to prevent religious discrimination and harassment and to allow for the reporting and investigation of harassment should it occur.

If you believe that you have been a victim of religious discrimination, consult with an experienced religious discrimination attorney at Workplace Justice Advocates, a Professional Law Corporation, about your situation.

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