The number one problem faced by those who observe Sabbath when seeking jobs is having to disclose their schedule limitations on the job application and in the hiring process. Routinely, Sabbath observers are screened out. Help is on the way! At least in California.
The Fair Employment and Housing Commission unveiled its proposed new regulations this week, addressing what are known as “pre employment inquiries” and making it clear that companies must inform applicants they don’t need to disclose their schedule unavailability if it is due to the need for accommodation on account of religion, disability, or medical condition. These regulations were revised at the urging of Church State Council Executive Director Alan J. Reinach over a multi-year period, and supported by the California Employment Lawyers Association. When implemented, the new regulations are expected to greatly reduce the problem of Sabbath observers being rejected out of hand. This is good news for employers as well as workers, since the job market is tight in this robust economy, and companies can ill afford to reject otherwise qualified applicants. Companies will still be permitted to inquire about specific scheduling needs, if the job requires it. But generic requests for open availability as is commonly practiced today should become a relic of the past. More than 50 years after passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Sabbath observing workers may finally obtain something approaching equal employment opportunity.
The Commission will be receiving public comment on Friday, August 17th, and will eventually either revise or finalize these proposed regulations. We certainly hope and pray for a steady course.