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Discrimination and Retaliation – Employee Protections in California

California has furthered its reputation as the state most protective of its employees with vital amendments and additions to existing laws. Employers that are governed by the jurisdiction of California can ill afford taking their eyes and minds off the changing legal environment of workforce and workplace laws.

With the Assembly Bill 987 Section 1(A), a request for reasonable accommodation, based on disability of religion, is treated as protected activity (under Section 12940) of the Government Code), which means that anybody making such a request is protected against any retaliation measures taken by the employer. Here’s more on this important amendment to the integral Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of California.

Disability and Religious Accommodation Requests are ‘Protected’ against Retaliation

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of California has been protecting the interests of citizens, protecting characteristics ranging from veteran status to disability, and from family status to sexual orientations. From 1st January, 2016, the scope of the law has been extended; any request for accommodation will now be protected as provided by the extended version of the law.

The amendment prohibits any discrimination and retaliation against employee requesting accommodation on grounds of disability or religious beliefs. This protection extends to the employee irrespective of whether the accommodation request is granted or not.

What does the amendment mean?

To put things into perspective, here’s an example. If a person who is not disabled, but puts in a request for disability accommodation, he/she will be protected by the updated version of FEHA. The organization and authorities will need to conduct a fair and intensive inquiry into whether the person’s request can be honored or not.

Plus, there can be no retaliation against the requester, because the same shall be covered as ‘protected’ under the ambit of the new FEHA. The amendment is an attempt to offer clarity on the holding of the much talked about Rope v. Auto-Clor Sys. of Washington, Inc., 220 Cal. App. 4th 635 (2013) decision.

More Protection for Whistleblowers

Also, California’s workplace legal environment is changing in context of whistleblower protection. With the Assembly Bill 1509, anti-retaliation measures for whistleblowers are now extended. The updated law dissuades employers from indulging in any discrimination against employees, if they engage in any whistle-blowing activity. The nature of activities protected under the law also encompasses complaints made about unsafe working conditions and wage theft.

More from AB1509

With AB1509’s provisions, employers are prohibited from discriminating against any employee even if the whistle-blowing act has been committed by one of family members of the employee. Also, the protection extends to contractual employees who might not be on the payroll of the employer. AB1509 provides for amendments to Labor Code section 98.6, 1102.5, 2810.3, and 6310. The provisions of the bill also exempt household goods carriers from employer, client, and labor liability provisions of the law.

Whether you’re an employee who is dealing with discrimination or a whistleblowing situation, we’ve got the legal experts to help you. Call Makarem & Associates at 310.312.0299, or email us at info@makaremlaw.com for a no-cost case evaluation.