Photo courtesy of David Weprin's office
Assembly Member David I. Weprin and Sen. John C. Liu stand with Dr. Dilip Nath, Founder and President of the New American Voters Association (NAVA), Rokeya Akhter, Executive Director of NAVA, and members of NAVA on the Assembly Staircase

New York state residents are now free to wear all religious attire and effects in the workplace.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation prohibiting employers discrimination based on an individual’s religious attire, clothing or facial hair. The bill, which Assemblyman David Weprin and Senator John Liu sponsored, passed in the Assembly and Senate earlier this year.

“As New Yorkers we celebrate our diversity and we champion freedom of religious expression in all places, including the workplace. This law will protect people from discriminatory employment practices based on religious attire or facial hair and makes it crystal clear to anyone who may still have doubts that New York has zero tolerance for bigotry of any kind,” Cuomo said.

The bill amends the current New York State Human Rights Law and makes clear that employers cannot refuse to hire, attain, promote or take other discriminatory actions against individuals who wear religious attire or facial hair.

“Today, New York expressly prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of religious attire and appearance. In these divisive times, New York must lead in protecting religious expression and eradicating bigotry and intolerance. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for signing this historic bill and protecting New Yorkers of all faiths,” said Liu. 

Weprin introduced this bill in the Assembly back in 2011 and it had passed every year since 2013. The assemblyman was inspired by Sikh MTA subway operator Kevin Harrington, who the agency told to remove his turban or deface it with a company logo.

Born into an Irish Catholic family, Harrington converted to Sikhism later in life. The E train operator drove the train back and forth between the World Trade Center and saved hundreds of lives during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The historic religious garb bill makes it clear that New Yorkers will not tolerate any discrimination against people of faith in the workplace. At a time when instances of bigotry and hate are increasing, it is our duty to stand up for each other’s rights and dignity. No New Yorker should have to choose between their profession and their religious beliefs,” said Weprin. “I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this momentous bill into law ensuring that all New Yorkers can feel respected in the workplace and I thank Senator John C. Liu for carrying this bill the Senate.”

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