Yesterday (July 16, 2015) Governor Brown signed AB 987 into law, making it an unlawful employment practice for an employer or other covered entity to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against a person for “requesting” an accommodation for physical or mental disability or religious belief or observance, regardless of whether the request was granted. Doing so would constitute disability discrimination and/or religious discrimination.
This bill was introduced in response to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Rope v. Auto-Clor System of Washington, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 635, where the court found no authority that a request for accommodation, without more, supports a FEHA retaliation claim). The new law now provides that legal authority.
New Law Makes REQUESTING Disability and Religious Accommodations a Protected Activity
Existing law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation of, among other things, a person’s disability and religious beliefs and prohibits discrimination against any person because the person has opposed any practices forbidden under the act or because the person has filed a complaint.
This new law takes it a step further and prohibits an employer from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against a person for requesting an accommodation of his or her disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted.
PRACTICAL TIP: Educate your organization on what a request for a religious or disability accommodation is and that employees may not be subject to adverse employment actions because of those accommodation requests. The requests should then be processed according to the requirements of California employment law.
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