New Law: Requesting Accommodation Constitutes Protected Activity Under the FEHA

In Rope v. Auto-Clor System of Washington, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 635 (discussed here), the plaintiff sued his former employer, alleging that it violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by terminating him after he requested leave from work so that he could donate a kidney to his sister. The Court of Appeal held, among other things, that he could not state a retaliation cause of action under the FEHA because his request for leave did not constitute protected activity.

On July 15, Governor Brown signed AB 987, reversing this holding. AB 987 adds sub-sections (l)(4) and (m)(2) to Government Code sections 12940, providing that a request for reasonable accommodation on the basis of religion or disability constitutes protected activity, regardless of whether the request was granted.

AB 987 leaves the remainder of Rope intact.The text of AB 987 is available here.