On June 26, 2012 the Cal­i­for­nia Sen­ate Judi­ciary passed AB 1964, the Work­place Reli­gious Free­dom Act of 2012. The bill pre­vi­ously passed the State Assem­bly on May 29, 2012.

AB 1964 would include the prac­tice of wear­ing reli­gious cloth­ing or a reli­gious hair­style as a belief or obser­vance cov­ered by exist­ing pro­tec­tions against reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion, and would spec­ify that an accom­mo­da­tion of a per­son wear­ing reli­gious cloth­ing or a reli­gious hair­style that would require that per­son to be seg­re­gated from the pub­lic or other employ­ees is not a rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tion. This bill would fur­ther pro­vide that no accom­mo­da­tion is required if an accom­mo­da­tion would result in the vio­la­tion of spec­i­fied laws pro­tect­ing civil rights.

Tes­ti­fy­ing at Tuesday’s hear­ing, Assem­bly­mem­ber Yamada (D-Davis) said, “While AB 1964 will pro­tect all reli­gious prac­tices, the bill specif­i­cally addresses the high lev­els of employ­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion expe­ri­enced by many Sikh Mus­lim Amer­i­cans who are required by their faiths to observe spe­cific reli­gious dress and groom­ing prac­tices. Rel­e­gat­ing an employee to a stock room out of pub­lic view will no longer be accept­able as a reli­gious accommodation.”

The bill is now sched­uled to be heard before the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee before advanc­ing to a vote on the Sen­ate Floor.

To track the progress of the leg­is­la­tion and read the lat­est ver­sions of the bill, visit http://​www​.aroundthe​capi​tol​.com/​B​i​l​l​s​/​A​B​_​1​9​6​4​/​2​0​1​1​2​0​12/