The California Governor signed into law AB 1964 which amends the Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”) to prohibit discrimination against individuals for the wearing of religious dress or the practice of religious grooming in the workplace. The FEHA already prohibits discrimination against “religious belief” or “observance.” However, the new amendment expressly states that religious dress and grooming practices qualify as a religious belief or observance.
Employers should “reasonably” accommodate religious belief and observance in the workplace. Under the new amendments, employers must provide some form of accommodation for religious dress and grooming unless doing so would be an undue hardship on the employer’s business. California employers should consider reviewing their employee handbooks and procedures to address this new change in the law and keep an eye out for additional legislation over the next couple of months.