Press Release from Senator Rick Santorum
For Immediate Release
March 17, 2005
Contact: Christine Shott (202) 224-0610
Santorum, Kerry Introduce Legislation to Protect Religious Freedom in the Workplace
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), today introduced the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) of 2005. If passed, this legislation will require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee's religious practice or observance, such as time off and attire; similar legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Mark Souder (R-IN), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), and Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
"Throughout the ten years that I have been in the Senate, I have worked to raise the profile and importance of religious freedom, both domestic and international, including currently leading a working group to discuss these issues," said Senator Santorum.
"While most employers recognize the value of respecting religion in the workplace, sometimes employees are forced to choose between dedication to the principles of their faith and losing their job because their employers refuse to reasonably accommodate certain needs. We need to be respectful of people's expression of faith in the workplace and in the public square. Senator Kerry and I hope that through this legislation we can find a balance for people who want to have their religious convictions respected at work and an employer who is trying to run a business."
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was meant to address conflicts between religion and work. It requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious needs of their employees so long as it does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
"I've had to accommodate people of faith as a former employee and manager in the retail business. Too often, the present situation discriminates against those who wish, for example, to keep the Sabbath holy. Whenever a reasonable accommodation can be made, no one should be forced to choose between his faith and his job. I'm hopeful that this bipartisan legislation will help remedy this problem," commented Congressman Mark Souder.
"The problem we face now is that our federal courts have read these lines out of the law by ruling that any hardship is an undue hardship and have left religiously observant workers with little or no legal protection," said Senator Santorum.
This legislation has garnered the diverse support of various religious groups including, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Council of Churches, the North American Council for Muslim Women, the Sikh Resource Taskforce, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the American Jewish Committee, Agudath Israel of America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and many others.
Maureen E. Ryan
United States Senator Rick Santorum
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Press Office: 202-224-0610
Press Fax: 202-228-4991