Bill Protects Religious Garb, Grooming in the Workplace

Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2012

California employers face new restrictions against shunting Sikh and Muslim workers out of public view for wearing turbans, beards and hijabs, under a bill signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure could affect workplaces from Disneyland to San Quentin Prison.

“This bill, AB 1964, makes it very clear that wearing any type of religious clothing or hairstyle, particularly such as Sikhs do … is protected by law and nobody can discriminate against you because of that,” Brown told some 400 Sikhs and supporters at a rally of the North American Punjabi Assn. on the steps of the Capitol. Brown also signed SB 1540, which requires the state Board of Education to consider a new history framework for schools that the governor said will include “the role and contributions of the Sikh community in California.”

A series of court cases have muddied the water on what employers must do to accommodate the religious practices of workers, said Rajdeep Singh, director of law and policy for the Sikh Coalition, a national civil rights group based in New York City. The new law will clarify the requirements.

“It’s needed because Sikhs and other religious minorities continue to experience job discrimination on account of their religion,” Singh said.


The new law restricts employers from segregating a worker from customers or the public as a means of accommodating his or her religious beliefs. It says employers must accommodate a worker’s religious practices unless doing so creates “significant difficulty or expense.”


Supporters say AB 1964, named after the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, could help in cases like that of a Muslim woman who sued Disneyland last month, alleging that she was fired from a hostess position after refusing to remove her head scarf at work.

Disneyland officials said they offered to provide her with a company-approved scarf for work.


Singh hopes the measure, which takes effect Jan. 1, will also pressure law-enforcement agencies and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to reconsider their workplace practices, which include a general ban on beards for prison guards. Some law enforcement agencies bar officers from wearing turbans, Singh said.

Arguments that beards and turbans conflict with efforts to create uniformity and discipline in law-enforcement ranks are “tenuous,” Singh said.

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  • Puggg

    We’ve been calling it Mexifornia.  Maybe its real future name should be Californistan.

  • Don’t hire muslims to begin with and you will avoid the problem. But of course, these are the same employers who hire illegal invading mexicans by the millions.

    • ” Don’t hire muslims to begin with and you will avoid the problem. ”

      Can’t do that.  You’ll get sued under Title VII for disparate treatment.  In fact you have to hire a certain amount of Muslims or else you’re discriminating under a disparate impact charge.  That’s how blacks get away with throwing out an employment test as racist because they can’t pass it.  The only way you can get away with not hiring them is if you have 14 or less people in your employ.  Although with the draconian California laws it’s 4 or less.

      • Not if you can demonstrate that, another applicant was more suited for the position.
        Although in this day in age, diversity has won out over qualifications, (and
        the rule of law) so perhaps you are right. Even so, I would not hire them and
        would make sure I could make the case as to why they were not selected.

        • The only way you can do that is by claiming the position requires a BFOQ (Bonafide Occupational Qualification).  For example, you could start  religious organizaion and get away with only hiring Christians. That’s how Disney gets away with only hiring white women to play Belle or the Little Mermaid. But a BFOQ is rather hard to prove.  Your best bet would be hiring less than 15 people and you won’t have to worry about any equal employment opportunity laws.

  • What if the religious garb is a safety hazard. For example, the long robe that Muslim women wear could get caught in a machine and cause injury or death. The surviving relatives would then sue the company for damages.The employer can’t win. It is best not to hire them in the first place.

    • The employer “wins” by not hiring them in the first place, since all muslims are a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      • rightrightright

        Not so easy over here, Thomas. 

        Just look at her plain face (with moustache).  Really fits in with a trendy, funky salon.   She got £4,000 for “hurt feelings”.   

        • Moreover, look at that smug, defiant look on her face! That is exactly what I’m talking about! This is why you do not hire muslims! They will use their “religion of peace” as a tool to blackmail money under the guise of “religious discrimination.” It happens all the time. Employers who do not heed this warning deserve what they get.

    •  That’s when you have them read a disclaimer which makes them waive their right to sue because they were warned.

  • IKantunderstand

    I give up. I hereby propose that all Whites in the (for now) USA, wear beards(if you are a woman, oops by that I mean a biological woman, wait, no, if you self identify, wait.) Just every White person please wear a beard, turban and hajib/burka (mix it up, have FUN with it) from now on.Refuse to allow TSA to examine you. Profiling. Refuse to remove your hajib for i.d. pictures. Can’t beat them, let’s join them!!!! I say we all work to be VICTIMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Clearly, the only road to success in this now sorry excuse of a nation. Also, stop going to work and apply for food stamps. Or, disability, or section 8 . (please feel free to substitute the word “and” for “or”. )

  • IstvanIN

    When in Rome do as the invaders do.

  • Allan477

    And what happens when someone claims their religion forbids frequent washing as some forms of Christianity have in the past, or requires nudism.

    • As far as the nudism goes, all you need is for someone of the opposite sex to claim sexual harrassment and it would put an end to that. As far as for not frequently washing, it could be construed as a health hazard.

  • Peter Lamoureux

    California will get what it deserves, total failure and economic collapse.  

  • I went to a prep school that didn’t allow religious symbols.  I used to wear a gold chain with a cross that I had to keep concealed behind my shirt.  But a Muslim girl was allowed to wear her  head rag.

  • toldev

    “The new law restricts employers from segregating a worker from customers
    or the public as a means of accommodating his or her religious beliefs.
    It says employers must accommodate a worker’s religious practices
    unless doing so creates “significant difficulty or expense.”

    Can you imagine going to a restaurant and having some guy named Hadji, who has an unkept beard down to his waist, waiting on your table?

    The lawmakers might be able to tell a businessman who he has to hire. But, the lawmakers can not tell the businessman’s customers that they have to keep patronizing his business.

    • I would turn around and walk out of any business, especially a restaurant, who dared to
      hire these filthy people to serve food.

  • Sloppo

    Muslims should enjoy the same rights here that Christians enjoy in Saudi Arabia.

  • SLCain

    I used to have a certain respect for Sikhs.  No more.  Now they are just another perpetually offended minority that wants to stake a claim to my country.  To hell with them.  They should all go home, and good riddance to them,.

  • Chelsea Richards

    Well said!
    Chris! I my opinion its inappropriate!

  • Chelsea Richards

    I still can’t believe that a lot of us is still arguing this kind of subject and this simply means that we don’t have the heart to understand everyone thoughts, beliefs and opinions.