Fired Due To Religion?: California Discrimination And Accommodations

Updated: Jan 27

Everything You Need To Know About Religious Discrimination In California

Religious Beliefs and Practices are well-protected by the law. This holds true in California, one of the states that have the most worker protection laws against discrimination. That said, your employer cannot make employment decisions—such as hiring, firing, promotions, and pay—on the basis of your religion.

If you were a client, here's what your California Employment Attorney would say about Religious Discrimination in the workplace.


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What Protects You In California?

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) policies promulgated under it and a few similar provisions of federal law contain broad, powerful protections of California employees from religious discrimination at work. These provisions prohibit employers in California from discriminating against employees and others on religious grounds.

You can report an employer for religious belief discrimination if they do any of the following:

  1. Made employment decisions on the basis of your (or lack thereof) religious beliefs

  2. Failed or refused to give reasonable accommodations for someone's religious beliefs and practices.

When any of these happen, you will have the grounds to file complaints to the appropriate agencies. Consult with a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you build a case and collect evidence to support your claims.

Who Is Protected Against Religious Belief Discrimination In California?

All religions and religious practices, not only major faiths, are protected.

Californians have a wide diversity of religious views. All of them, large religions and minor cults alike, are protected by civil rights laws.

According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's (DFEH) regulations implementing FEHA, a "religious credo" protected under civil rights law includes:

  1. Any recognized religion, as well as any other beliefs, observances, or practices that an individual honestly holds and that have a place of importance in his or her life that is comparable to that of traditionally recognized faiths

  2. Includes religious attire and grooming traditions, as well as all aspects of religious belief, observation, and practice

Under the FEHA, any employment action taken against a job applicant or employee because of that person's religious views or practices, or lack thereof, is illegal discrimination. Here are several examples:

  1. Refusing to recruit someone because of their religious beliefs, including whether the person is religious or not

  2. When determining which employees to promote or how much to pay them, an employee's religious opinion is considered a factor or criteria

  3. Because of a religiously observant employee's wardrobe, an employer may fire, demote, or take other retaliatory action against the person

  4. Allowing a workplace atmosphere in which an employee's religious beliefs are mocked or criticized

  5. Because of the employee's religious grooming practices, they are barred from working in a job that requires contact with the company's customers or the general public

  6. Employees are separated/segregated, or their job responsibilities are assigned based on their religious beliefs

  7. An employee is fired after the employer finds out their (or lack thereof) religious beliefs and practices

  8. An employee is fired or isn't hired because the boss or hiring manager assumed their religious beliefs

Do note that this list of examples is not exhaustive. These are only a few of the many religiously motivated job behaviors that can be considered criminal discrimination. As a general rule, any action taken by an employer or supervisor that is motivated by religion risks violating the FEHA and federal law.


Apprenticeships and internships in many California job areas, such as entertainment, law, marketing, manufacturing, and the building trades, provide vital opportunities for Californians just starting out in the workforce to gain experience and set the groundwork for a career. Some of these jobs pay a small wage, but the majority are unpaid.

When it comes to the right to be free from religious discrimination, an apprentice's or intern's age, experience level, job term, or wage status are irrelevant. Apprentices and interns are protected from illegal religious discrimination to the same extent as full-time employees under California civil rights statutes.

Independent contractors are also protected from religious discrimination. Working as an independent contractor for a California company rather than as an employee does not imply giving up your rights. Independent contractors are protected from religious discrimination in two ways under California civil rights law: