Q: Can an employer make you join a church as a condition of employment in California?
The reason he was told to join was to convince the church leadership to move their property line - it is adjacent to the apartment complex my husband runs. He was told to do this as a condition to keeping his job.
While there are bona fide religious organization that require their employees to be a member of particular religious faith, a property owner would have an extremely difficult time justifying such religious discrimination.
You husband should consult an employment lawyer. Most provide free consultations.
Neil Pedersen agrees with this answer
The short answer is no, his employer cannot force your husband to join a church as a condition of continued employment. There are some church employees who might fall into the exception to the rule, but your husband is not in a position that falls into the exception.
If he refuses to join the church and if he thereafter faces an adverse employment action such as termination, then your husband should locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore his facts and determine his options. I would suggest he look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning he can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for him. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep him from finding a good attorney.
Good luck to you.
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