Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Karines Reyes announced today the passage of a bill to protect employees by prohibiting employers from coercing them into attending or participating in meetings sponsored by the employer’s political or religious matters (A06604, Reyes).
“We in New York protect employees’ freedoms in the workplace,” said Speaker Heastie, “There should never be an opportunity for an employer to use their power over an employee to force them to attend a meeting connected to politics or religion. New York is a pro-worker state, and we will continue to work hard and fight for them.”
“I will always stand with the workers of New York State,” said Assemblymember Reyes, “This is one meaningful step forward in protecting their freedom in the workplace and making sure we limit the employer’s ability to hold a next paycheck over the heads of their employees. By passing this bill, we are protecting the rights of both employees and employers. We are ensuring that employees may refuse to participate without fear of retaliation if they refuse to listen to views and opinions not germane to their work duties.”
In 2018 the U.S Supreme Court’s decision in ‘Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31’ gave protections to employers personal First Amendment freedoms over the collective good of the workforce. This bill gives the freedom back to workers, protecting them from retaliation for refusing to attend meetings where the primary purpose is communicating the employer’s opinion on political or religious matters.
This bill comes at a time of record low union membership across the state. The Assembly Majority believes these low numbers are due in part to the employees fear of employer retaliation due to the employer’s discussion of religion and politics in the workplace.