Measure Signed Giving Religious Observers Wider Job Protection

Mayor John V. Lindsay signed a measure yesterday which protects the rights of religiously observant employes and jobseekers in this city. The measure, passed recently by the City Council, is an amendment to the city administrative code adopted in Oct. 1971 dealing with “discrimination in employment, promotion or discharge because of certain religious practices.”

Under the amendment an employer cannot deny a job to an applicant who refuses to comply with general employment policies because they conflict with his religious observances. The employer is required to make reasonable accommodation to the employe’s religious requirements unless to do so would result in undue hardship. Hardship has to be demonstrated by the employer.

Howard Rhine, president of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA), said it was essential that the measure be enacted because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency administering the employment provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, is not adequately staffed in New York City. Its local counterpart, the City Commission on Human Rights, can now act as the enforcement agency. Furthermore, COLPA said, the 1964 Act is limited to firms engaged in inter-state commerce, and the NY State Human Rights Law which covers intra-state commerce is limited to Sabbath observance and does not protect appearance and manner of dress stemming from religious beliefs. Rhine said the measure will “strengthen immeasurably” the religious rights of minorities.

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