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TURNING EMPLOYER WRONGS INTO EMPLOYEE RIGHTS

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Despite 2012 law, religious discrimination still prevalent in CA

In 2012, the California State Assembly passed a law banning religious discrimination in the workplace. Despite this recent change in the law, hundreds of Californians say they have been discriminated against at work based on their religious beliefs or practices.

A recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations argues that Muslims frequently face mistreatment on the job. The group’s California office reports that it received 933 complaints of religious discrimination in the workplace against Muslims — 444 in Los Angeles alone.

Many of the reports involved employers who refused to accommodate Muslim religious practices, such as wearing hijab, or a headscarf, and taking prayer breaks.

In one example, a woman interviewed for a job at a beauty supply store. She did not wear her hijab to the interview and was hired. But when she showed up for her first day of work, she wore hijab. Her supervisor told her to take it off and sent her home when she refused. The store did not fire her, but cut back her work hours and forced her to work in the back, away from customers.

One reason for this terrible and illegal trend is lack of understanding of the new law, according to the managing director of the Center for Religious and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. Many employers believe that accommodating Muslims practices is giving them “special rights,” she said.

Of course, the law does not only cover Muslim people. Anyone who suffers workplace discrimination because of their religious beliefs has the right to take action.