NYC Passes Law to Ban Workplace Religious Discrimination

NYC Sikhs speak out against the Transit Authority's religious discrimination in 2009

This morning, the New York City Council voted unanimously to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (Int. 632-A), a bill that will strengthen the city’s human rights law that protects employees from religious discrimination at their jobs.

According to the City Council,

This law will provide greater protection to workers by strengthening the law that requires employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations for religious observance.

Employers that are found to have engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices against its workers may be liable for a civil penalty of as much as $125,000 and/or be required to pay compensatory damages, award back pay, reinstate employees and extend full and equal accommodations to employees.

The law is of particular significance to turban-wearing Sikhs and hijab-wearing Muslims who have faced a great deal of discrimination in their workplaces in NYC, particularly since 9/11. Advocates including the Sikh Coalition (who played a lead role in pushing for the legislation) hope that the law will make it much harder for employers in both the public and private sectors to discriminate against potential or current Sikh employees. Notably, the New York Police Department still does not allow turban-wearing Sikhs to serve as officers. (There was a case years back involving a Sikh traffic cop, however, who ended up winning and serves with his turban).

Check out this news coverage about the new law, which includes an interview with Amardeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition.

The mayor is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.

Says bill co-sponsor Mark Weprin (a Council Member who represents an area in Queens with a large Sikh population),

This bill sends the message that people should not have to choose between serving our city and adhering to their religious beliefs. All Americans should receive the full embrace of our countrys constitutional freedoms.


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9 Responses to “NYC Passes Law to Ban Workplace Religious Discrimination”

  1. Thts very good but I live in Melbourne . Australia is a racicst county . They r doing a racicism wid Indians. Nobody come at A front
    2 support punjabis

  2. OldSchooler says:

    Oh I'm sure Banda Singh Bahadur, Baba Deep Singh, Baba Jassa Singh, Baba Hari Nalwa Singh would be so proud of us to have gone to the ministers of government and asked for "rights". Rights that were already gifted to us on the first Vaisakhi. As a Sikh I am a king, and any other Sikh who bows to Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a King. So then, it what realm do Kings ask ministers for favors?

    Guru Nanak Dev Ji himself gave us the infinite wisdom in writing "Raje shee, muqaddam kuthe", the kings are lions, the minister's are dogs.

    Where is our strength to say to the world, "The world has always pointed its sword at us, but we have never been shaken. Our Guru has commanded us to live our life in this way, nothing but the frailty of our own minds can shake us from that path. If you think that the rejection of employment would bring us to our feet, then you clearly have not heard the tale of my ancestor Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, who endured his son's heart being put in his mouth, but did not relinquish his faith."

  3. guest says:

    i hope the sikh coalition, who have monopolized the title of "the voice of the community" will now start setting their sights a little higher than just fighting for the "right to wear articles of faith", as if that's all that sikhs are interested in.

    if someone doesn't want to hire me because of my paghri, i'll find another job. there are plenty of places that value a sardar and what he represents.

  4. Mohinder Singh says:

    @oldschooler,couple of words might be mine,but the rest is from the book written by emminent sikh historian,Dr.Ganda Singh & Prof. Teja Singh.The books title is 'short history of the sikhs' and it was published by Punjabi university,Patiala.@meena the guru &bbsb didnot fight the mughals to save hindu women,the fight started coz guru would not pay taxes & bbsb who had no axe to grind with the mughals was incited by the guru,and he was fighting for guru's revenge.Only when he started to behave as the guru's succesor was he brought down by his own compatriates like binod singh.Even guru's wife Sundari wrote hukumnama's for sikh's not to follow him,u can see that in amritsar it is still displayed.Get u r facts straight fella.

  5. essaysontime says:

    News and all laws passed for the combined and selected rules are introduced. It is the final and ultimate means of the success for the satisfaction and all themes.

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