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Jun-10-2007 14:43TweetFollow @OregonNews
Religious Freedom Act Clears Oregon HouseSalem-News.com Capitol Watch
The bill preserves the right, for example, of a Muslim woman to wear a headdress and modest clothing.
(SALEM, Ore. ) - Democrats in the Oregon House of Representatives championed a bill last week that, having received bipartisan approval in the House, will protect religious liberty for Oregon workers.
“The ability to worship and observe religious tenets free from recrimination is among the most fundamental of human rights,” said House Majority Leader Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas County), chief sponsor of the bill. “This bill preserves those rights and reaffirms our commitment to a discrimination-free Oregon.”
As approved by the House, the bill would require employers to allow an employee to use vacation or other available leave for religious observance and to allow employees to wear religious clothing, take time off for a holy day, or take time off for religious observance, if doing so does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business operation.
“People of faith in the workplace too often confront impossible conflicts between their employment obligations and their religious obligations,” said State Representative David Edwards (D-Hillsboro). “This bill goes a long way toward eliminating those conflicts.”
Democrats say the bill is needed because federal law falls short in two important areas: taking time of for religious observance, holy days or religious practice and wearing religious apparel in the workplace.
The bill preserves the right, for example, of a Muslim woman to wear a headdress and modest clothing, for a Jewish man to wear his yarmukle or for a devout Catholic woman to take Christmas Day off of work.
Current Labor Bureau statistics demonstrate a decline in age discrimination and flat discrimination complaints based on race or gender. Workplace religious discrimination—in sharp contrast--has risen by 82 percent in recent years.
“All religious people, whether Christians, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists or Orthodox Jews, ought to be concerned when employees with sincerely held and practiced religious beliefs must risk their job to practice their faith,” said State Representative Terry Beyer (D-Springfield).
“This vote ensures that all Oregonians, whatever their religious beliefs and practices, are protected from religious discrimination in the workplace,” said State Representative Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay).
The bill now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.
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