Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, praised the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for filing a religious discrimination lawsuit yesterday in federal court in New York against The French Connection, an international clothing retail chain.
The suit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleges that The French Connection rescinded an offer of employment it made to Ms. Amanda Nathan to work as a buyer for the company once she informed the company that she was a sabbath observant Orthodox Jew. Ms. Nathan informed the company that she would need to leave work early on Friday afternoons in the winter months in order to begin sabbath observance by sunset, but would be happy to work extra hours on other days of the week to make up the time and complete her work. Through the suit, the EEOC is seeking injunctive relief, back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
Nathan Diament, director for the Union’s Institute, issued the following statement:
The Orthodox Jewish community deeply appreciates the action taken today by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to combat religious discrimination in the workplace, particularly with regard to Jewish sabbath observers and to ensure that members of our community, like all other Americans, cannot be forced to choose between career and conscience.
Along with a broad coalition of America’s religious communities, the Orthodox Union continues to work to guarantee the accommodation of religious observance by employers. Earlier this month, Governor Pataki signed a law expanding New York State’s protection of workplace accommodation rights. And, we continue to work with friends in the U.S. Congress to secure the passage of the bipartisan Workplace Religious Freedom Act which will protect people like Amanda Nathan throughout the country. Ms. Nathan’s situation shows the need for this legislation and we hope Congress will enact it in short order.