You are reading

Queens Pols Celebrate Law Barring Discrimination Based on Religious Attire

Assemblyman David I. Weprin & Senator John C. Liu stand with Sikh Coalition Policy and Advocacy Manager Nikki Singh, District Leaders Dr. Neeta Jain & Gurdip Singh Narula.

Aug. 15, 2019 By Ryanne Salzano

Elected officials from Queens celebrated the signing of the Religious Garb Bill at the Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill on Tuesday.

The bill, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday, Aug. 9, widens the definition of employment discrimination in New York’s existing Human Rights Law. Now, religious attire, clothing and facial hair are protected under the law.

The bill first passed the state assembly in 2013 but always lacked the support of the state senate.

This year, with the Democrats taking control of the senate, it finally got the backing of the upper house. The bill passed the senate after being sponsored by State Sen. John Liu.

Assemblyman David Weprin, who represents District 24 in Queens, championed the bill in the assembly since its inception.

The bill protects employees from being fired–or from not being promoted–because of their religious garb or facial hair.

The bill came as a response to the case of Kevin Harrington, a Sikh MTA employee, in 2004. Harrington, a subway operator, was ordered to remove his turban and wear an MTA uniform hat. He was also given the choice to brand his turban with an agency logo.

“Today we celebrate a great victory against hate and discrimination,” Weprin said. “Finally in a state as diverse as ours, people of faith no longer have to choose between their religion and their jobs.”

The officials in attendance included: Assemblyman Weprin, State Sen. Liu, Assemblymembers Michael Miller, Alica Hyndman and Daniel Rosenthal, Council Member Adrienne Adams, District Leaders Dr. Neeta Jain and Gurdip Singh Narula, Governor Cuomo’s Director of Downstate Regional Affairs Hersh Parekh, and other Queens community members.

“Today, New York expressly prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of religious clothes and appearance. The Religious Attire Bill makes clear that employers must provide accommodation for religious apparel and grooming practices, such as the Sikh turban and unshorn hair,” Liu said.

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
safe and sound

I always feel more safe when someone in a turban is driving my train…I feel even more safe when the pilot of my plane faces east and bows his head and says “allahu akbar” before entering the flight deck…

You sound too fragile for NYC

If you’re that afraid of diversity you should move to Republican paradise like Alabama

Going their way

Umm well if you read the article the MTA was overly sensitive to someone’s clothing. I’d be ecstatic if the MTA left NYC.


…So it was the *MTA* that forced a Sikh to remove their turban!? Man… They barely run AND they discriminate against their employees?


Funny you bring that up in the context of religious attire, simce Sikhism, Islam, and Orthodox Judaism all require daily bathing. Maybe just a *little* bit misinformed and racially profiling there? You never met a white guy in tshirt and jeans who smelled bad? Lucky you.

Joh Fredersen

What about body odor? Is smelling like a mountain goat also protected under these laws? So I can go to my job unkempt, not having bathed in weeks dressed in tattered attire and say that my appearance is protected under the law?


What does that have to do with religious attire? Plenty of people in suits smell bad…You equating a turban with bad hygiene seems hella racist to a normal person.


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force investigating vandalism at Forest Hills church that has been targeted in the past

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a case of criminal mischief at a Forest Hills house of worship in which a vandal threw a rock to intentionally damage its glass front door, according to authorities.

Police say that just before 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, police from the 112th Precinct were called to Grace Lutheran Church, located at 103-15 Union Tpke., after a man threw a rock and damaged the church’s front door.

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.