The state has long been a leader in suing businesses for failing to pay workers fair wages.
But the case of a California woman seeking damages for being fired from a McDonald’s restaurant for refusing to wear a burkini or for wearing a niqab at work this month is the first legal challenge to a state labor law.
It also raises questions about how courts and legislatures can decide whether a labor law violates the federal Constitution.
The lawsuit filed Friday by the California Nurses Association alleges that McDonald’s fired her for wearing the niqabi during her shift.
The complaint states that the company failed to pay her the $12.35 an hour she was promised for being paid the minimum wage.
The suit also says the company violated California’s Labor Code by firing her for refusing the burkinis.
In the lawsuit, she is seeking $500,000 in damages, plus an additional $2,000 for mental anguish and other compensatory damages.
The company has declined to comment on the case.
“Our complaint is about basic fairness and dignity, and the right to be treated with respect,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Jessica Williams told The Washington Times.
McDonald’s said in a statement that the burqa, which covers the face, is “a personal choice, and it’s one that a business cannot make.”
The statement added that the “burkini was worn to work as part of a public health and safety precaution.”
The lawsuit comes as the Trump administration has been working to revise labor laws in response to a rise in workplace violence, including sexual harassment, discrimination and racial discrimination.
As part of the efforts to roll back protections under the Obama-era law, the Trump-era Labor Department has issued guidance that says employers must allow employees to wear religious clothing while at work and must provide paid sick leave and other benefits for workers who don’t wear religious attire.