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What can be worn to work for religious reasons - the basics

Even with the nation’s improving economy and jobs outlook, there are scores of people across California who are being denied employment or being subjected harassment in the workplace because of their religious beliefs. This type of discrimination may take many forms. Religious practices may be mocked or ridiculed, or a person’s religious dress is treated the same.

In some instances, religious dress may be disallowed in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Act, which celebrates its 50th year in existence later this summer, prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating based on religion or religious beliefs or practices. 

The Act also covers employees provided by staffing agencies who work for third party companies. When it comes to religious dress, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation to those who seek an exception to an employer’s dress code unless it causes an undue hardship for the employer or a safety hazard for other employees.  

It is not uncommon for employers to force dress code requirement onto employees, especially those in positions where their economic situations prevent them from speaking up for themselves or challenging such invasive rules. After all, a vulnerable employee may have financial obligations (i.e. monthly rent, children) that prevent them from fully asserting their rights.  In the same vein, employees who have been let go for standing up for their rights may be equally affected.

In either event, seeking counsel from an experienced employment law attorney is a prudent move. 

Source: “Benefit of counsel: What not to wear,” Janette Levey Frisch, May 19, 2014

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