CAPAC Chair Praises New Workplace Religious Freedom Protections in California

Sep 10, 2012 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), praised the passage of a new law in California (AB 1964) that strengthens the legal standard for religious accommodations in the workplace.

“California is leading the nation in protecting workers from discrimination based on their religious practices and attire,” said Chairwoman Chu. “Even under existing law, many Americans—including Sikh Americans, Muslim Americans, and Jewish Americans—feel forced to choose between their careers and their faith. This new law represents an important step forward and we must implement similar protections on a national level.”

AB1964 strengthens protections for workers who observe religious dress, grooming requirements, or religious holy days. California is now the only state in the nation that explicitly prohibits employers from segregating workers from customers or the public when accommodating religious practices or beliefs. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus has consistently fought to promote the equitable treatment of all Americans, regardless of their faith or ethnicity. The caucus has previously endorsed workplace religious freedom legislation similar to AB 1964 that was introduced in the U.S. Congress. CAPAC also led the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in a Tri-Caucus initiative to request that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “issue written guidance clarifying that religious accommodations requiring segregation from customers constitute adverse employment actions, which can never be deemed ‘reasonable.’”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.