Two former teachers at the Little Oaks School in Thousand Oaks were let go after they refused to submit information about their own faith, including church attendance, and a reference from a pastor to their employer. Rather than settling a wrongful termination and religious discrimination case with the teachers, the school has filed a lawsuit in federal court to assert what it believes is its right to associate and hire only those who share its religious beliefs.
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 1964 into law prohibiting discrimination against workers who wear visible signs of their religion - like turbans or hijabs - in the workplace. The new law is aimed at protecting Muslim and Sikh workers from religious discrimination in the workplace but protects all employees in California from religion-based employment discrimination.
A new bill recently passed by the California Assembly seeks to expand religious protections in the workplace by specifically allowing employees to wear religious clothing and carry religious objects while at work. Religious hairstyles would also be protected. Religious freedom is already protected in the California workplace. An employer cannot legally discriminate against an employee based on his or her religious beliefs.
California law and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect people of all faiths--Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and all other religious faiths--against unfair or retaliatory treatment based on their religious beliefs. This is a sacred right and protection to most Americans, as is the right to work in a healthy workplace environment.
Incidents of discrimination against Muslims in the workplace across the U.S. are on the rise. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that in 2009, there were 1,490 claims made by Muslims that alleged discrimination by employers. Of these 1,490 claims, 803 resulted in charges from the EEOC. This is also a growing problem in California, as 58 of the 803 claims occurred within the state, placing it behind only Georgia and Minnesota in the amount of claims filed. Several recent high profile cases show similar patterns of discriminatory activity.