City Staff Ideas Challenge
#nycspeaks2022 Share your ideas for bold actions the Mayor should take
Allow employees to take religious holidays without utilizing annual time
New York City is home to many minorities who observe a variety of faiths. Those who are observant and take a variety of days off throughout the year should be able to do so without utilizing annual time. If certain holidays are currently official and serve as days off, it would be tremendously helpful if that criteria was expanded to include a multitude of faiths. Alternatively, can employees work the currently mandatory off days and utilize the time to cover their respective holidays?
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Conversation with Richard Kass
This would be unconstitutional. The City cannot give more paid days off to people who observe religions than it gives to people who don't observe religions. And it cannot give more paid days off to people whose religions have a lot of weekday holidays than it gives to people who are members of other religions. An evenhanded policy would give everyone enough paid personal/vacation time so that religious people don't have to lose income when they observe their holidays.
You are correct, that would be the best option that would not prioritize any specific group.
No, holidays should be established for specific reasons. Inventing holidays in order to accommodate religions is unsustainable and unconstitutional.
There are certain holidays that are currently prioritized - what about allowing employees who don't observe them to work those days and take off on their holidays?
It's a job. Asking people who don't follow your religion to cover for you when you signed up for a contract to do the job on all days except legal holidays is to enforce your religion on your co-workers.
And if the legal holidays prioritize one faith over another?
The current work calendar is religion-neutral and we should keep it that way. We definitely should not ask non-religious workers to cover for religious workers.
I do not think the current work calendar is religion neutral, but you are pointing out a very real issue with my proposal. I also do not think non-religious workers should have to cover for religious workers and that may be the flaw that essentially makes the proposal untenable.
I just want to point out the fact that public schools are closed on some holidays that city employees do not get off - what if we have places of employment reflect those days off?
If we expand the number of holidays to accommodate religion, we'd be violating the First Amendment. I know the wall of separation has been irreparably damaged, but let's not accelerate its demise. We "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
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