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Press Releases
July 31, 1997


The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America -- the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization representing almost 1,000 congregations nationwide -- hailed today's introduction of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA). The legislation, known as "WRFA," will amend federal civil rights laws to provide greater protection for religious employees in their workplaces.

WRFA will require employers to accommodate the religious observances of their employees as long as providing such accommodations will not impose an "undue hardship" upon the employer. Thus, for example, a Jewish sabbath observer or Seventh Day Adventist could elect to work more hours certain days of the week in order to take time off to observe his religious holy day later in the week.

Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union's Institute for Public Affairs, stated that "with this bipartisan introduction of WRFA, this critical piece of legislation has an excellent likelihood of being passed into law. Senators Coats and Kerry," continued Diament, "are committed to working together in order to ensure that no American will be faced with the terrible prospect of having to choose between their job and their livelihood."

Diament also noted that the Orthodox Union, and its president -- Dr. Mandell Ganchrow -- played a unique and critical role in securing the support of Senator Dan Coats, a senior senate Republican: "This important bill has languished for too long due to a lack of Republican support," said Diament, "the Orthodox Union is a respected, non-partisan and non-ideological voice on Capitol Hill and is thus able to work with members in both parties on such important legislation. We expect to enlist a large bipartisan group of cosponsors in the coming weeks and secure passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act."

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