US Senator John Kerry has introduced the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2010 to the US Senate.  For Sikhs, this law has important implications:

Under current law, employers are required to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for the religious practices of their employees.  Employers can bypass this requirement by showing that such accommodations would impose a minimal difficulty or expense on the employer’s business.  WRFA would still allow employers to deny religious accommodations, but only by proving that such accommodations would constitute a significant difficulty or expense.  Because it usually costs employers little or nothing to accommodate Sikhs, the new legal standard would make it extremely difficult for employers to discriminate against Sikhs.

This isn’t brand new legislation. Five years ago, Senator Kerry, along with Senator Richard Santorum (R) introduced the 2005 version of this bill with the same name.  WRFA 2005 didn’t make it to vote before that Congress session ended, and therefore the bill disappeared quietly into the night.

Just as WRFA 2005, WRFA 2010 has been sent to committee prior to a Senate vote:

This bill is in the first step in the legislative process. Introduced bills and resolutions first go to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate. The majority of bills and resolutions never make it out of committee.

With the current session of Congress set to expire within a week, WRFA 2010 is also likely not to see the light of day.


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