By Alan Reinach
After several years of advocacy by the Church State Council, the religious liberty ministry of the Pacific Union Conference, a regulation protecting job applicants was recently passed.
While it has long been illegal to screen out job applicants because of their race or their religion, for example, questions about schedule availability have routinely been used to reject applicants who don’t work certain days on account of their religion, especially Sabbath observers.
Effective July 1st in California, C. C. R. § 11016 protects employees filling out job applications from disclosing scheduling restrictions based on legally protected grounds. It codifies the law against just such discriminatory practices by requiring employers to place a notice, on the job application itself, that the applicant should not indicate if they are unavailable due to religion, medical condition, or disability.
Instead of having to check off that the applicant is unavailable, they can answer as though they are available to work. Only after a job is offered, and the employer communicates the work schedule, will the employee need to seek a religious accommodation for Sabbath observance.
Those applying for jobs are urged to take note and send copies of any offending job applications to the Church State Council. The Council is committed to educating employers and enforcing the provisions of this regulation it fought so hard to enact. You can reach the Church State Council by email: firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone: 805-413-7396; or online at www.churchstate.org. The Council provides legal services to church members with Sabbath work conflicts—always at no cost to church members.
During such a time of economic distress, it is important to safeguard the opportunities of unemployed persons to be considered fairly when they apply for a job.
About C. C. R. § 11016
Such inquiries must clearly communicate that an employee need not disclose any scheduling restrictions based on legally protected grounds, in language such as: “Other than time off for reasons related to your religion, a disability, or a medical condition, are there any days or times when you are unavailable to work?” or “Other than time off for reasons related to your religion, a disability, or a medical condition, are you available to work the proposed schedule?”