Cuomo signs Religious Garb Bill

Assemblyman David Weprin.Photo courtesy of Assemblyman David Weprin's Office.

Elected officials throughout Queens are looking forward to celebrating the religious garb bill, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed last week.

State Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside), Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and more are will be at the Sikh Cultural Society located at 95-30 118th St. in South Richmond Hill on Tuesday at noon to celebrate the signing of the new law.

The law will amend the New York State Humans Rights Law to further enforce the state’s rule that employers are prohibited from discriminating against current or potential employees because of their religious attire or facial hair, according to Cuomo’s office.

It also protects employees from being retaliated against, fired or from not being promoted because of their religious garb or facial hair, according to Cuomo’s office.

“Today, New York expressly prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of religious attire and appearance,” said Liu. “In these divisive times, New York must lead in protecting religious expression and eradicating bigotry and intolerance.”

Weprin called the bill “historic” for preventing future people of faith from being discriminated at 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.”

The bill signing comes weeks after a Hindu priest dressed in his full orange garb was attacked while walking towards his temple in Glen Oaks.

The lack of hate crime charges against the perpetrator resulted in a public outcry by religious groups and elected officials from Queens, as well as the newly appointed Attorney General Letitia James.

Currently, the priest’s alleged attacker was charged with harassment and 2nd-degree assault, according to the NYPD. The case is still under investigation.

The bill was initially prompted after several Sikh workers within the MTA were prohibited from wearing turbans around 2007 after a turban ban was implemented following the 9/11 attacks of the Twin Towers despite the religious group having nothing to do with the attacks, according to the justification section of the Religious Garb Bill.

In 2012, the MTA had to settle a $184,000 lawsuit with eight former employees, according to the New York Times.

“As New Yorkers we celebrate our diversity and we champion freedom of religious expression in all places, including the workplace,” Cuomo said. “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.”

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