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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
September 14, 2011

  • Mayor Signs WRFA Bill Into Law

    On September 2, 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a bill (initiated by the Sikh Coalition six years ago) that will significantly enhance religion-based protections for employees working in New York City. The bill, called the “Workplace Religious Freedom Act” by supporters, will change the legal standard by which courts review claims of religious workplace discrimination by public and private city employees. Now this law will still allow employers to deny religious accommodations, but only by proving that such accommodations would constitute a “significant difficulty or expense,” as opposed to a “minimal difficulty or expense,” as the previous law allowed. Council Member Mark Weprin (D-Queens) is the law’s primary sponsor. Present at the signing were representatives of the Gurdwara Sant Sagar and the Sikh Coalition, whose joint efforts, along with Council Member Weprin, allowed this historic bill to pass.

    This change in city law tracks a national movement to enhance federal employment discrimination laws. Every year, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduces a federal “Workplace Religious Freedom Act.”  While efforts to change the standard at the federal level have not yet seen success, both state and local municipalities are moving to adopt a more faith-friendly workplace accommodation standard.

    “This [law] 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 country’s constitutional freedoms,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin.

Sikh Coalition Launches Unheard Voices of 9/11 Website

This past August, the Sikh Coalition was proud to launch the Unheard Voices of 9/11 website, in conjunction with the upcoming 10 year anniversary of September 11th. Members of the Muslim, Sikh, South Asian and Arab American communities not only endured a horrific attack on the United States by terrorists, but are continually subject to attacks from fellow Americans in the form of hate crimes, employment discrimination, school bullying, racial profiling and other forms of discrimination in the wake of 9/11
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These stories of discrimination have gone largely unheard or dismissed, but this website is meant to give these victims a voice. To be a part of this movement, please share your voice on how discrimination has affected you since 9/11. Record a 2-3 minute video or write a short testimony and upload it to: http://www.unheardvoicesof911.org/.

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