Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protect employees from unfavorable treatment of an employee or applicant because of his or her religious beliefs. Both state and federal law protect an individual's religious beliefs, and forbid religious discrimination in any aspect of employment including hiring, pay, firing, promotion, duties, and benefits. The law protects not only those individuals that belong to a traditional religious institution or church, but also to those who hold religious, ethical or moral beliefs. While it is illegal to harass a person because of his or her religious beliefs, the law does not protect against isolated remarks, simple teasing, or offhand comments. When, however, such comments become frequent or so severe that they create a hostile or offensive work environment or results in adverse employment decisions, this constitutes illegal harassment.
Accommodations for Religious Practices
Employers must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices unless that accommodation would cause undue hardship. Such religious accommodation may include, but is in no way limited to, head coverings (Muslim headscarf or Jewish yarmulke), hairstyles, or facial hair (Sikh beard and hair or Rastafarian dreadlocks). Reasonable accommodation could also include an employee's refusal to wear certain garments at work.