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Can you wear religious hairstyles and garb in your workplace?

The short answer is probably. Employers with at least 15 employees must generally allow religious garb and grooming practices in California.

If you are concerned about discrimination based on how you practice your faith (wardrobe, hairstyle, etc.), it is time to discover your rights. Remember, workplace discrimination due to your sincerely held religious beliefs is unlawful on state and federal levels.

What can you wear?

Your employer may not forbid you to wear or carry articles of clothing associated with your religious beliefs and practices. For example, in the Sikh faith, most men and women observe their faith by wearing or carrying the following five articles of faith.

  • Unshorn hair (kes)
  • Steel bracelet (kara)
  • Wooden comb (kanga)
  • Sheathed blade (kirpan)
  • Soldier shorts (kachera)

Sikh practitioners of either gender may also express their faith by covering their unshorn hair with a turban or chunni (headscarf).

Employers cannot demand that you leave your religious garb at home or change your grooming practices. Other religions that require specific attire or hairstyles include:

  • Rastafarians – dreadlocks
  • Jewish practitioners – yarmulke (cap) and peyes (sidelocks)
  • Muslims – hijab (headscarf)
  • Christians – crucifixes or crosses

The right to wear clothes and hairstyles related to your faith also extends to lesser-known and even new religions.

More to learn

Your right to practice your religion at work does not end with your outward appearance. For example, most employers must allow workers to take necessary days or time off for observed holidays or ceremonies.

Learn more about workplace discrimination if your employer resists or retaliates against you for exercising your rights. Increasing your knowledge opens the way to a solution that ensures your religious rights remain protected.

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