Fremont, California (April 12, 2012)—Surrounded by members of the interfaith community, California Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada held a press conference yesterday at the West Sacramento Gurdwara to unveil legislation to protect Sikhs and others from job discrimination in the workplace.

The legislation, known as the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2012 (AB1964), will be considered by two legislative committees this month.

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California Sikhs continue to experience job discrimination because of their Sikh articles of faith.  According to a Sikh Coalition report published in 2010, approximately 12% of Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area believe that they have experienced job discrimination.  Major law enforcement agencies in California refuse to hire Sikhs.  In addition, loopholes in federal law make Sikhs vulnerable to workplace segregation.

If AB1964 passes, it will significantly reduce job discrimination against Sikhs and other religious minorities and outlaw segregation in California, one of the largest economies in the world.  The proposed law is part of the Sikh Coalition’s ongoing efforts to strengthen civil rights laws throughout the nation.  Last fall, a six-year effort by the Sikh Coalition culminated in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signing into law a city version of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act.

The Sikh Coalition is grateful to Assemblywoman Yamada and her staff for introducing AB1964, and to the Sikh sangat and committee members of Gurdwara Sahib West Sacramento, including Public Relations Officer, Mr. Darshan Singh Mundy,  for hosting the press conference and promoting interfaith understanding and civic engagement in their community.