On September 8, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (AB 1984) amending the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to add “religious dress” and “religious grooming” practices to the definition of protected religious creed, religion, religious observance and religious belief.  The new law broadly defines religious dress practices 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” and religious grooming practices 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.”  Employers have always had an obligation to reasonably accommodate their employee’s religious beliefs, but California law now expressly protects the expression of such beliefs in dress and grooming.  California retailers should thus review their dress and grooming standards and be open to allowing exceptions to such standards for employees whose bona fide religious beliefs require dress or grooming practices inconsistent with company standards.  So, will fashion merchandisers or cosmetic companies have no choice but to permit employees to wear full burkas?  Not necessarily, but the stakes have risen, and alternatives should be carefully reviewed with counsel.