Assemblyman Fall Introduces New Legislation During the 2020 Legislative Session

Assemblyman Charles D. Fall (D-Richmond) last week introduced legislation (A.9942) which would amend the executive law to require employers to engage in good faith “cooperative dialogue” with employees who request accommodation due to a religious practice or observance.

The bill’s intent is to codify existing federal and state law to make a good faith attempt by employers to allow employees to observe their religious days of obligation with no employer repercussions as long as there is no hardship to that employer. The legislation is all inclusive and covers all denomination, more specifically, those who practice the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhism faiths. According to the Pew Research Center, New York State population has risen to 12% that identify as non-Judeo/Christian faith, with 45% finding religion very important.

“Cooperative dialogue,” is defined in the legislation, where an employee requests an accommodation related to his or her religious beliefs. While the new legislation does not substantively broaden an employer’s duty to accommodate employees, it does impose new procedural demands on employers that receive a request for accommodation by an employee. Specifically, employers must engage in “good faith” in written or oral dialogue in the discussion of an employee putting forth a request for a religious or holy day of observance.

If the employer determines it cannot meet an employee’s requested accommodation, it must explain to the employee the difficulties that the request would pose for the employer and suggest alternative accommodations that may adequately address the employee’s needs. These “good faith” discussions – which may be verbal or written – must continue until the employer determines whether I can grant some form of accommodation.

As the first elected Muslim-African American representative of Staten Island, it is essential that we in New York State recognize the trends that show an increase in populations of non-Judeo/Christian faiths that are increasing and that more people today find it very important to practice and observe their desired faith. I in fact worked on similar policy that was implemented by the city administration,” said Assemblyman Charles D. Fall.