The Problem

Although Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, the U.S. Supreme Court has created loopholes in the law that allow employers to segregate religious observers and deny religious accommodations using flimsy excuses. As a result, law enforcement agencies in particular are able to exploit these loopholes and deny equal employment opportunities to religious minorities, including Sikh Americans who wear turbans and maintain unshorn hair and beards.

The Solution

The Sikh Coalition is a strong supporter of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA). This model legislation eliminates loopholes in federal and state law by prohibiting workplace segregation and requiring employers to prove significant difficulty or expense before denying a reasonable religious accommodation.

"Sikhs and Muslims shouldn't have to go to the back of the store in order to continue employment or to support their families"

Assemblymember Mariko Yamada

  • million Californians better protected from discrimination
  • K California Sikhs breaking new barriers in the workplace
  • million employees in New York City are now better protected from discrimination


In 2011, the Sikh Coalition initiated and secured the passage of New York City’s “Workplace Religious Freedom Act,” which significantly enhanced religion-based protections for employees working in New York City.

In 2012, the Sikh Coalition followed the victory in New York by leading a successful interfaith campaign to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act in California, the most populous state in America and one of the largest economies in the world. Titled AB1964, this historic legislation was quickly signed into law and gives workers in California the nation’s strongest protections against religious discrimination. As a result of its passage, California Sikhs are no longer vulnerable to workplace segregation and are able to pursue careers as law enforcement officers without giving up their articles of faith.

How You Can Help

Report job discrimination immediately to the Sikh Coalition’s legal team (

"This bill sends the message that people should not have to choose between serving our city and adhering to their religious beliefs. All Americans should receive the full embrace of our country’s constitutional freedoms.”

Council Member Mark S. Weprin