Three cheers to the Sikhs in California for being in the forefront of efforts to get a bill through both chambers in Sacramento that guarantees them some protections if they choose to practice their faith in the workplace. Governor Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign it.

For Sikhs, practicing their faith simply means allowing them to wear their articles of faith, which include a turban and beard.

In recent years, we’ve seen police departments in California refusing to hire Sikhs unless they remove their turbans and cut their hair and beard. A Sikh, who wanted to work as a security guard in the state’s prison system, was denied employment for the same reason. He sued and won.

According to the Sikh Coalition -- the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States set up post 9/11 -- in 2010, approximately 12% of Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area have experienced job discrimination in one form or another. Sometimes, the discrimination can be subtle. For instance, an employer will have a Sikh employee work in the back of a store, away from public view, noted Simran Kaur, advocacy manager of The Sikh Coalition, the primary sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act the Senate passed yesterday.

The Act would specifies that religious clothing and hairstyles qualify as a religious belief or observance, and that segregating an employee from customers or the public is not a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs.

Sure, there are federal laws that make workplace discrimination illegal. The1964 Civil Rights Act for one; the Fair Employment Housing Act, for another. AB 1964 – the Workplace Religious Freedom Act -- will lend more teeth to them.

Eighteen civil rights and religious groups co-sponsored AB 1964, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American Islamic Relations and the Church State Council.

Eighteen civil rights and religious groups co-sponsored AB 1964, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American Islamic Relations and the Church State Council.