California governor signs law protecting Sikhs, Muslims, from workplace bias

California employers face new restrictions against shunting Sikh and Muslim workers to backroom jobs out of public view based on their wearing of turbans, beards and hijabs, under a law signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“This bill, AB 1964, makes it very clear that wearing any type of religious clothing or hairstyle, particularly such as Sikhs do, that that  is protected by law and nobody can discriminate against you because of that,” Brown told some 400 Sikhs and supporters at a rally of the North American Punjabi Assn. on the steps of the Capitol.

Brown also signed SB 1540, which requires the state Board of Education to consider a new history framework for schools that the governor said will include “the role and contributions of the Sikh community in California.”

The new law restricts employers from segregating an employee from customers and the public as a means of accommodating the employee’s religious beliefs. It clarifies that employers must accommodate a worker’s religious practices unless it creates “significant difficulty or expense” for the employer.