Illinois Passes Religious Garb Law Clarifying Religious Protections Under Illinois Human Rights Law
On August 11, 2017, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-100, known as the “Religious Garb Law.” The law amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) by clarifying the scope of protection for sincerely held religious beliefs.
Specifically, the amendment makes clear that it is a violation of the IHRA for an employer to impose a requirement that would cause an employee to “violate or forgo a sincerely held practice of his or her religion including, but not limited to, the wearing of any attire, clothing, or facial hair in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion.” However, the law indicates that “[n]othing in this Section prohibits an employer from enacting a dress code or grooming policy that may include restrictions on attire, clothing, or facial hair to maintain workplace safety or food sanitation.” Moreover, employers may still prohibit attire, clothing and facial hair if failing to do so would result in an undue hardship to the employer’s business.
In essence, this amendment clarifies the scope of religious protections that exist under the IHRA. Notably, the EEOC has taken the position that Title VII protects religious garb.