NEW YORK (Jan. 16)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today called proposed Labor Department guidelines aimed at ending religious and ethnic discrimination in employment practices of federal contractors “a significant development in ending underutilization of Jews.” In making the statement, however, Seymour Graubard, the ADL’s national chairman, noted that several areas of the directives might be strengthened. He cited as an example the section of the ruling concerning protection of the rights of employes who observe Saturday Sabbath and other holidays carrying a religious prohibition against work.
The ADL, through its discriminations department, acted as consultant to the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance, which drew up the guidelines. ADL studies have shown that Jews, and to a leaser degree, Catholics, are victims of religious discrimination by big business.
The section of the proposed guidelines dealing with religious holidays says “employers are encouraged to make reasonable accommodations to the religious needs and observances” of workers. The League chairman said ADL would recommend that the word “encouraged” be changed to “required” in order to make the OFCC ruling consistent with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rulings for private employers and federal agencies themselves.
The new guidelines are applicable to government contractors and subcontractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors. If employers fail to comply with the OFCC rulings, the government can suspend or cancel their contracts and/or bar them from further federal contracts. Graubard said the new rulings “put government strength into an are with which private agencies have long been concerned.”