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Your Legal Corner - Client Alert Blog

California FEHA Amended to Prohibit Discrimination For Religious Dress and Grooming Practices

Written By: Melissa C. Marsh, Esq., California Attorney, October 2012 Add to Favorites
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination (except in the case of undue hardship) in employment and housing based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age or sexual orientation. Assembly Bill 1964, signed by Governor Brown, codifies existing interpretations of religious discrimination under the FEHA into the statutory law by amending the definition of “religious creed” to specifically include religious dress and grooming practices.

California employers and for that matter landlords should take note that “religious dress practice” is defined under the FEHA “to include the wearing or carrying of religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, artifacts, and any other item that is part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.”

Similarly, “religious grooming practice” is defined to include “all forms of head, facial, and body hair that are part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.”

Religious dress and grooming practices will be afforded protections under the FEHA. As such employers are required to reasonably accommodate the religious dress and grooming practices of an individual unless the accommodation would be an undue hardship on the conduct of business of the employer. The legislation specifically provides that an accommodation that segregates the employee from the public or other employees is not a reasonable accommodation. Given the broad language of the statute (which may even require the employer to permit the wearing of religious weapons under the term “artifacts,” employers should anticipate a significant increase in claims.


Tags: religious discrimination
Posted In: Employment Law News 


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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.