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2016 Labor Law Updates Part II - Expanded Retaliation & Discrimination Protections

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California employees will enjoy increased protections from retaliation and discrimination in the workplace when requesting accommodation for a disability or for religious beliefs starting January 1, 2016.

California Assembly Bill 987 (A.B. 987) provides protection against discrimination and retaliation when an individual requests a reasonable accommodation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), regardless of whether the request was actually granted. A.B. 987 clarifies that making a request for reasonable accommodation on the basis of religion or disability is a protected activity.

In the past, employees who merely requested accommodations and were retaliated against were unable to assert claims of discrimination/retaliation because the act of asking for accommodation was not statutorily included as a protected activity. Now, employees can feel confident in their protections under the law when making accommodation requests regarding their disability or religious beliefs and practices.

Once such a request is made, employers are on notice that the employee is engaging in a protected activity. The employer must ensure that subsequent actions taken by the company are compliant with the FEHA and not retaliatory or discriminating.

The FEHA protects and safeguards the right and opportunity for all individuals to hold employment without discrimination or harassment due to their: race, religious creed, color, national original, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic condition, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status. Under the FEHA, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified individual's disability/religious belief, and it prohibits any discrimination or retaliation against an individual if the employee has complained about an employer's practices that are not compliant with the FEHA or if they've filed a FEHA complaint.

Contact Freeland Law APC for a free 30-minute consultation with Michael Freeland, experienced employment lawyer serving San Diego, California.

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