The expectations concerning the duty of California employers to accommodate employees may begin to change in the near future. Two recent cases that might have a significant impact on the workplace involved the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suing Abercrombie & Fitch and a female employee filing a lawsuit against UPS. The cases each reflect the higher burden now placed on employers, and focused on discrimination violations.

The Abercrombie case involved the denial of a potential hire due to a hijab, a religious headscarf, which an applicant was wearing during the interview. The attire was not discussed during the interview, but the company ultimately decided not to make the hire because the applicant could have potentially violated Abercrombie’s “look” policy that disallowed the wearing of caps. The EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the applicant, claiming that Abercrombie’s denial to hire was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Abercrombie claimed it was unaware of any religious implications, but the Supreme Court ruled that any motive that avoids religious accommodation was enough to qualify as violating Title VII. This particular case could apply to accommodation and discrimination cases covered by the American Disabilities Act as well. The UPS case involved the company granting a pregnant employee a weight-lifting restriction, but denying her request for light duty because her condition did not qualify for accommodation. The Supreme Court Ultimately ruled that she was entitled to the same light duty request granted to any other employee working under that weight restriction at UPS .

Those who believe that their employee rights have been violated by a current or potential employer may want to discuss their cases with an employment law attorney. After a review of the evidence, counsel may suggest initiating proceedings by filing a claim with the EEOC or appropriate state agency.