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Speaking Out on Behalf of New York's ‘Beard Law’

Speaking Out on Behalf of New York's ‘Beard Law’

Rabbi Israel Rubin speaking out in support of a new religious freedom law sponsored by New York Assemblyman David Weprin (center).
Rabbi Israel Rubin speaking out in support of a new religious freedom law sponsored by New York Assemblyman David Weprin (center).

Democratic New York Assemblyman David Weprin has championed a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the workplace against attire worn for a religious purpose. Called the “Beard Law,” it seeks to address the host of religious minorities in the city and state who dress differently than the norm.

“No person should have to choose between working at their place of employment or observing their religion,” he said. “When employees continuously face discrimination because of their religion and ethnicity at the workplace, then it infringes on their civil liberties.”

The bill will amend the civil-rights law, the executive law and the labor law in relation to prohibiting discrimination against religious attire, including facial hair. This proposed legislation will protect the rights of both uniformed employees and all New Yorkers from discrimination by allowing them to dress according to their customs. It will also protect them against discrimination for wearing any sort of religiously motivated or mandated garb or appurtenances, including beards, as long as such garb or appearance does not pose a hazard to that person or to the public.

A graduate of University at Albany SUNY, Weprin has close ties to Rabbi Israel Rubin, director of Capital Region Chabad, which includes the Shabbos House Rohr Chabad Center that serves hundreds of Jewish students. That relationship goes back to Weprin’s days at the university.

Weprin has been pushing the bill through the Assembly House over the past few months. Rubin emphasized the importance of such legislation in a state that encompasses one of the most diverse religious communities in the nation.

The bill was written in response to series of cases and concerns from religious communities who were discriminated because of their religious attire, including one last year when a Chassidic Jew, sporting a beard, was prohibited from joining the New York Police Department.

“We enthusiastically support” the idea behind this legislation, which calls “for equal-employment opportunities for all New Yorkers, regardless of religious attire and facial grooming,” said Rubin.

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Anonymous USA June 18, 2013

Beard Law in NY I agree. Religious people should be able to participate in every facet of society. No discrimination. Reply

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