The Illinois Human Rights Act was recently amended to address clothing and facial hair issues connected with religion. It is now unlawful for an employer to impose upon a person any terms or conditions that would require such person 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. This requirement appears to apply to both applicants and employees. It covers all aspects of employment, including obtaining or retaining employment, opportunities for promotion, advancement, and transfer. There is an exception if, after engaging in a bonafide effort, the employer demonstrates that it is unable to reasonably accommodate the employee’s or prospective employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.
Nothing in the new provision 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.