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Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a handful of employment law-related bills that give California employees more protections against unlawful employer retaliation. On January 1, 2016, AB 987 was just one of the new laws that went into effect, extending anti-retaliation protections to employees who request reasonable accommodations due to eithera disability or religious beliefs.

But how exactly does the new employment law protect California workers? This article will answer key questions about AB 987 to help you better understand your employee rights.

california-employment-law-ab-987-employer-retaliation.png

Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a handful of employment law-related bills that give California employees more protections against unlawful employer retaliation. On January 1, 2016, AB 987 was just one of the new laws that went into effect, extending anti-retaliation protections to employees who request reasonable accommodations due to eithera disability or religious beliefs.

But how exactly does the new employment law protect California workers? This article will answer key questions about AB 987 to help you better understand your employee rights.

How does AB 987 protect employees from retaliation?

California employment law AB 987 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), making it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for making reasonable requests for accommodations due to a disability or religion – regardless of whether the request was granted. This means the new law clarifies that simply making a request is now also considered “protected activity” in the state of California.

While federal law has offered similar rights to employees with disabilities and religious creeds under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, California law exceeds the protections offered.

What is the background of AB 987?

AB 987 was an amendment written in response to a lawsuit where California employee, Scott Rope, was fired after requesting leave to donate a kidney to his disabled sister. Rope ultimately lost the case against his former employer where the court ruled that his paid leave accommodation request didn’t qualify as a “protected activity” under California law. Therefore, FEHA did not explicitly protect employees against retaliation for accommodation requests until AB 987 was signed into law.

AB 987 amends sections (l) and (m) of Government Code section 12940, the FEHA. These code sections prohibit discrimination due to religion and disability. The law requires employers to grant reasonable requests for accommodation, and AB 987 makes it illegal for California employers to “retaliate or otherwise discriminate against a person for requesting accommodation . . . regardless of whether the request was granted.”

What is reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation can be defined as assistance or changes to a position or workplace that helps enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability or religious belief. Some common examples of reasonable requests for accommodation include:

  • When an employee needs an exception to a company’s dress code for religious practice.
  • When an employee seeks to change job tasks that do not interfere with their religion.
  • When an employee needs scheduled breaks for daily prayers.
  • When an employee requests accommodation to not work on their religion’s Sabbath.
  • When an employee asks for training material to be modified due to their disability.
  • When an employee asks their employer to hire an interpreter.
  • When an employee asks for a reasonable amount of additional unpaid leave for medical treatment.
  • When an employee asks to be transferred to another location to obtain better medical care.
  • When an employee needs additional tools or modified job responsibilities to accommodate a medical condition or disability.

What can I do if my employer violates FEHA, as amended by AB 987?

If you feel that your California employer has unlawfully discriminated or retaliated against you for requesting reasonable accommodation due to your religion or disability, you should contact an employment attorney to discuss your options before filing a retaliation or discrimination complaint with the DFEH or EEOC.

California Employment Law AB 987: Additional Information

  • Bill Text: AB 987 – Employment discrimination: unlawful employment practices
  • California amends FEHA, protecting accommodation requests via Lexology.com
  • Calif.: Employees Requesting Accommodation Are Now Protected via SHRM.org

No one should have to suffer from employer retaliation due to their disability or religion, and the California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz are here to help. Contact us for your free consultation today.