Senate unanimously passes legislation protecting discrimination against religious attire in the workplace

Photo credit: Senator John Liu’s office

Yesterday in Albany, the New York State Senate unanimously passed the Religious Attire bill, which prohibits discrimination against religious attire in the workplace.

The vote came after a group of lawmakers, led by Senator John Liu, pushed for the passage of the legislation in the Senate on Tuesday, April 9. Back in February, Assemblyman David Weprin sponsored the identical Religious Garb bill, which successfully passed the Assembly in a vote of 106 to 1.

“Discrimination in the workplace is bad enough, but unaddressed it becomes far more pernicious as people face taunts and eventually abuse that goes beyond verbal,” said Liu. “This bill expressly prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of religious attire and appearance and will ultimately help eradicate bigotry and intolerance in our state.”

Liu argued the bill along with Senators Andrew Gounardes, Robert Jackson, Brian Kavanagh and Jessica Ramos, Assembly members Weprin, Simcha Eisenstein and Felix W. Ortiz and various advocates, including Sikh Coalition, Sikh Cultural Society, Muslims for Progress (MFP), SAFEST, Bangladesh American Advocacy Group (BAAG), New York Muslim Advocacy Coalition (NYMAC), Engage Action and distinguished Muslim leaders from New York City and Long Island.

Under the bill’s terms, “the wearing of any attire, clothing, or facial hair in accordance with the requirements of his or her religion is protected under the Human Rights Law.”

Weprin first introduced the bill in the Assembly in 2011 and it had passed every year since 2013. Liu agreed to carry the bill in the Senate following its passage.

“The passage of the Religious Garb Bill in the Senate, which will ensure that no one is ever forced to choose between their religious beliefs and earning a living, is a historic moment in the state of New York. In this divisive time, when many different groups are under attack, we in New York are making it clear that we value diversity and that we will not be divided,” said Weprin. “I thank Senator John Liu for shepherding this bill through the Senate in his first session after its introduction eight years ago and look forward to the day that this bill is signed into law by the executive.”

Senator Ramos added, “Who we are, what we wear, and how we worship should never be reasons to discriminate or barriers to serve the public. Senator Liu’s bill ensures that every New Yorker is protected. After all, workplaces and for everyone and so is America.”