September 3, 2011 – On Aug. 17, New York City’s City Council unanimously passed the Workplace Religious Freedom Act to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of religion. The push for the anti-discrimination bill started with Amardeep Singh, whose Sikh religious practices require him to maintain unaltered hair (including facial hair) and wear a turban. However, such practices are not allowed by the New York City Police Department. Singh claimed he felt distressed over the discrimination, arguing that people in the Sikh community would make honorable police officers.
With Singh’s dilemma in mind, City Council passed the anti-discrimination bill, and the City Council Speaker reminded the public that Workplace Religious Freedom Act is not intended only for city agencies, but for all employers in New York City. The bill will require employers to allow religious days off, times for prayer, and uniform accommodations. Without the Act, employees can be required to work on religious days if they are considered an “inconvenience,” but the bill will now require the employer to prove that a religious observance would cause a significant hardship or expense. Singh’s hope is that the bill will simply force employers to respect his religion and allow him to have the freedom he expects as an American citizen. Mayor Bloomberg says he intends to sign the bill into law.
The Philadelphia religious discrimination lawyers of the law firm of Sidney L. Gold and Associates have an extensive record of successful claims for workplace discrimination based on religion and religious beliefs and practices. If you or someone you know has been discriminated on the basis of religion, please contact us at 215-569-1999.