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Religious Freedoms Archives

Religious Harassment & Discrimination: What's the Law in California?

California law is very protective of the rights of its citizens to be free from all forms of discrimination.  California has long required businesses to accommodate the religious beliefs of workers. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) includes religious creed in the list of protected categories. California Assembly Bill 1964 amended Government Code sections 12926 and 12940 provide further clarification that the Fair Employment and Housing Act's (FEHA) discrimination protections and reasonable accommodation requirements give an individual the right to wear religious dress and engage in grooming practices consistent with their religious beliefs.   FEHA requires employers to accommodate religious beliefs and observances if reasonably possible without undue hardship. Courts have held that this duty extends beyond accommodating only required religious tenets.  The law protects an employee's right to engage observances, to attend services, and to pray.   Reasonable accommodation of a request for religious accommodation means making job modifications that enable an individual to exercise personal religious beliefs.  The employer may be required, depending on the situation to make scheduling changes to permit religious observances, and permitting dress and grooming practices and permitting employees to pray at work in some. Religious accommodations that might impose an undue hardship on business might be unreasonable and may not be required.

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