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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: March 7, 2007

Senator Clark Jolley
Senator Clark Jolley

Bill Prohibiting Religious Discrimination in State Agencies Passes Senate

A measure that would prohibit state employees from being discriminated against on the basis of their religion was passed by the full Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Clark Jolley said Senate Bill 793 was intended to correct a problem that emerged last year when employees at a state agency were notified they could be discharged for referencing prayer or saying “Merry Christmas” during the holiday season.

“The religious beliefs of public employees ought to be accommodated under circumstances such as this,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “This is simply not the way the law was intended to be used. We have a First Amendment that should protect an individual’s right to freedom of self expression.”

Jolley explained that the bill would not allow administrators to prohibit employees from wearing symbols or displaying signs relating to their religious holidays and would ensure employees have the same right to expression that lawmakers have.

“What I’m hoping to accomplish with this is to give every state employee the same rights that you and I enjoy in this chamber,” Jolley said to his fellow Senators. “We have the right to wish each other a Merry Christmas or Happy Easter, and administrators shouldn’t be allowed to selectively determine what meets the standards of religious discrimination.”

Jolley added that the original intent of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is to guarantee freedom from religious discrimination, rather than to allow administrators or employees to limit expression in the workplace.

“That’s not the intent of our religious discrimination provisions in our equal employment laws,” Jolley said. “The law was intended not to limit expression, but to guarantee freedom for employees to express their faith.”

After passing on a vote of 39-7, the measure will now advance to a House committee for consideration.

For more information contact:
Senator Jolley's Office - (405) 521-5622

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