Putting Employment Issues Behind You

Faith-based accommodations: Can your boss ban religious attire?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Discrimination

In today’s diverse workforce, fostering an inclusive environment that respects individual beliefs is paramount. Recognizing the right of employees to express their faith through attire and grooming is a vital part of inclusivity.

In California, with its strong stance on religious freedom, employees have generous protections against such discrimination. In other words, you almost certainly may wear hairstyles and garb necessary for your faith.

You also have federal protections

Federal law protects your right to express your religion through appearance. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers (with 15+ employees) from discriminating based on religion, including dress and grooming practices. That means you can generally wear religious clothing (hijabs, turbans) or maintain religious hairstyles (dreads, Jewish sidelocks) and facial hair. Even lesser-known or new religions have the right to religious expression through clothing and hairstyles when substantiated.

Protection goes beyond appearance

Your right to religious expression extends past how you look and dress for work. Most employers must allow reasonable requests for religious accommodations, such as time off for holidays or ceremonies. Discreet prayer breaks as part of religious observances must also be allowed in the workplace, even during a work shift.

Possible exceptions to religious dress and hair

With all of this said, it is important to note that employer dress codes can exist. However, your company must make exceptions for religious attire unless it creates an undue hardship (safety concerns, exorbitant expenses, etc.).

Talk to your employer about your needs and explore solutions that respect your faith and workplace standards. If that fails and you continue encountering resistance or experience even more adversity, seeking legal guidance can allow you to make informed decisions about your rights and options under the law.