A major addition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Title VII inclusion, was designed to make sure that every single American throughout the United States had every opportunity to pursue employment in any industry or field without any worry about their religion stopping them from gaining a new position.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, this federal law has been eroded away to become almost meaningless with the protections that it was intended to provide. A number of federal judges over the past 40 years have interpreted the law very narrowly, essentially giving employers the opportunity to discriminate at will when that certainly wasn’t the idea behind this inclusion to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at all.
Thankfully though, government leaders and legislators in the state of California have pushed back against these narrow rulings and determinations.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law the AB 1964 California Religious Freedom Act, a new set of legislation designed specifically to beef up the amount of religious freedom citizens throughout California are supposed to enjoy as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The focus of this legislation has always been to close up a number of the loopholes that have been discovered by lawyers, like Michael Rehm, and legislators pushing back against religious freedom. The new law, a law that goes into effect immediately in the state of California, seals up those loopholes and is going to prevent a tremendous amount of discrimination that has been happening in workplaces up and down this state.
One of the major aspects of this new legislation is to make sure that employers aren’t able to compel employees to move away from any clothing or grooming standards that may be a part of their religion in an effort to continue working at their position. In the past, employers were able to meet their federal requirements by providing what was described as a “reasonable accommodation” that essentially took these employees from public facing positions in them of the public eye while allowing them to honor their faith with their garb or their grooming standards.
Today, objective evidence of a significant business hardship is now 100% mandatory to deny any religious accommodations whatsoever by employers. This is going to cut back significantly on the amount of employers that were able to use this loophole to discriminate against their employees and it’s going to open up a whole new avenue of religious freedom in California that didn’t exist previously.
According to statistics released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, more than 500 religious discrimination cases were brought forward against employers in the state of California in just the last year alone.
This legislation is designed to bring those numbers back down, to compel employers to allow their employees to celebrate their religion in any and every way they see fit, and to make sure that no citizen of California feels as though they have to hide their religion or turn their back on their religion just to find and secure gainful employment.