The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization representing almost 1,000 congregations nationwide — joined today with Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) at a Capitol Hill press conference to promote the Workplace Religious Freedom Act [“WRFA”], recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. The legislation will amend federal civil rights laws to reinstate protections for religious employees in their workplaces that have been undermined by adverse court rulings.
WRFA will require employers to accommodate the religious observances of their employees as long as providing such accommodations will not impose an “undue hardship” upon the employer. Thus, employers would be encouraged to afford employees flexible work shifts so that they may observe religious holy days and permit employees to wear religiously required garb at work.
To date, the legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Ct), Tim Hutchinson (R-Ar), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md), Gordon Smith (R-Or), Patty Murray (D-Wa), Sam Brownback (R-Ks), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Ensign (R-Nv), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Larry Craig (R-Id), John Edwards (D-NC) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s Institute for Public Affairs and a leader of the diverse coalition of religious organizations supporting WRFA, issued the following statement:
Promoting religious liberty is the highest domestic policy priority for the Orthodox Union and its national constituency. The issue of religious accommodation in the workplace is a critical component of making religious liberty real for Americans of all faiths. Thus, we strongly support WRFA and deeply appreciate the leadership of Senators Kerry and Santorum on this issue. We look forward to continuing our work with them and the diverse members of our coalition of religious communities to secure passage of this bill and ensure that no American is forced to choose between career and conscience.