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Lehman Asks State Ban on Job Discrimination

Legislation to prohibit discrimination because of race, color or creed in all business affected with public interest was urged on the Legislature yesterday by Governor Herbert H. Lehman in his annual message, which warned that such discrimination weakened the foundations of democracy.

Governor Lehman cited in particular “many instances where employers state that only Christians would be acceptable. No argument is necessary to establish that this discrimination against Jews violates the fundamental principles of American democracy,” he said.

The Governor pointed out that bans on discrimination already exist in the civil service and in labor unions and organizations. He continued:

“I urge that at this session we eliminate the vicious practice of discrimination in all businesses affected with a public interest. While not to the extent found elsewhere, discrimination does exist here in the State of New York. Such practice is particularly hateful when it results in denying any one the right to work. I look with profound distaste upon distinction based on race, color or creed.

“In this connection I should like to call your attention to protests which have come to my desk concerning racial discrimination by defense industries in selecting their employes.

“The foundations of American democracy are weakened by those engaged in subversive activities and of course, no employer desires the services of one who does not believe in American principles. But I am convinced that the foundations of democracy are equally weakened by those who engage in racial discrimination; by those who fail to give equal opportunity to American citizens regardless of race, color or creed….

“I trust that during these critical times when democracy has been destroyed in many lands and when our own democracy is being threatened, that the defense industries in New York State will insist upon non-discrimination in employment.”

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