Mark A. Kellner/ANN
The fight to protect the faith of America’s workers on the job advanced slightly in the United States House of Representatives Nov. 10, when the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations held what is believed to be the first hearing on the “Workplace Religious Freedom Act,” or WRFA.
Attorney James Standish, congressional liaison of the Seventh-day Adventist world church to the Congress, said the hearing was a milestone. A similar hearing in the United States Senate is expected sometime in the new year, a Senate staff member told ANN.
“This is a very important step forward, and I think that while we have a long way to go, we’ve made great strides,” Standish told ANN. “What we need is for everyone who supports freedom to do their part and let their Representatives and Senators know their views and ask them to move this thing forward.”
“In general, employees should not have to choose between a job and their religion. It’s just that simple,” declared subcommittee chairman Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, in an opening statement. However, Johnson also declared “the right balance” needs to be maintained between the needs of business owners and those owners “respecting all employees.”
If passed as written, the bill would require employers with more than 15 workers on their payroll to not discriminate against any employee who “with or without reasonable accommodation” is qualified to perform the essential functions of a job, unless that accommodation constitutes an “undue hardship,” according to the bill’s draft. It exempts both dress codes and scheduling issues from “essential requirements,” meaning that an employer must accommodate an employee’s request for leave to participate in religious observances or to modify a dress code for religious purposes.
More information on religious liberty issues in the United States can be found online at http://www.religiousliberty.info