CA State Updates - 2015 Jan 06 No.01

On July 16, 2015, Gov. Brown signed into law AB 987, which amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to provide protection for employees who make a request for an accommodation of a disability or religious beliefs. Existing law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation for, among other things, a person’s disability and religious beliefs and prohibits discrimination against any person who has either opposed any practices forbidden under the act or filed a complaint. This bill would also prohibit an employer from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against a person for requesting accommodation of his or her disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted.

AB 987 was initiated in reaction to Rope v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc., a 2013 decision from a California appellate panel. In that case the employee requested a leave of absence to donate a kidney to his sister five months prior to the surgery. Two months before the surgery the employee was terminated. He sued for associational disability discrimination under FEHA, but the appellate panel affirmed dismissal of his suit, holding that "a mere request—or even repeated requests—for an accommodation, without more" does not constitute protected activity sufficient to support a claim for retaliation in violation of FEHA. AB 987 amends the statute to establish that "[a] request for reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability constitutes protected activity … such that when a person makes such a request, he or she is protected against retaliation for making the request."

The changes to FEHA take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

AB 987 »