Orthodox, Reform back workplace act

The Orthodox and Reform movements backed legislation that would protect religious rights in the workplace.

Both movements wrote to members of the Labor subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee ahead of a hearing it held on the legislation Tuesday.

The Workplace Religious Freedom Act “is carefully structured to strike a delicate balance between the needs of employers and employees of faith,” the Orthodox Union said in a statement. “It does not impose a strict mandate upon employers to accommodate, but a balancing test which requires accommodation when such would not impose a significant difficulty on the employer and where it would not impede the employee from performing the essential functions of a position.”

The Reform’s Religious Action Center told congressmen that “Stories of Jews being fired for refusing to work on the Sabbath, Muslim women losing their jobs over their request to wear a head-scarf, and Sikh-Americans being fired for wearing turbans are regrettably all too common in our society. WRFA serves to prevent such occurrences by requiring employers to accommodate the religious needs of employees.”

The act has bipartisan support, but has encountered resistance over the years from civil libertarians.

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