Two New Discrimination Laws Affecting Employers in 2013

If you are an employer, have you changed your notices, postings and employee handbook policies to reflect the changes set forth in AB 1964 and AB 2386?

Religious Dress/Grooming (AB 1964)

As clarified by AB 1964, the Fair Employment and Housing Act protection individuals from discrimination based on religious dress or grooming practice, and also prohibits segregating a person from the public or other employees because of a religious dress or grooming practice, and establishes clearly that segregation is not a reasonable accommodation. Section 12926(p) of the Government Code is amended to read:

“Religious dress practice” shall be construed broadly 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. “Religious grooming practice” shall be construed broadly 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 grooming practice” shall be construed broadly 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.

Breast Feeding

As clarified by AB 2386, nursing mothers are also protected from employment discrimination. The definition of “sex” set forth in Government Code section 12926(q) now includes, without limitation, pregnancy or medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to childbirth, and breast feeding or medical conditions related to breast feeding. “Sex” also includes, but is not limited to, a person’s gender. “Gender” means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender expression. “Gender expression” means a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.

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