Friday, September 25, 2015

Suit Against Synagogue Alleges Pregnancy Discrimination

New York Post reports on a pregnancy/ gender discrimination lawsuit filed in New York federal district court against the elite Upper-West Side Orthodox Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel, by its long-time program director, Alana Shultz. According to the complaint (full text) in Shultz v. Congregation Shearith Israel of the City of New York, (SD NY, filed 9/22/2015), the congregation fired Shultz (under the pretext of a staff restructuring) after she informed her supervisor that she was 19 weeks pregnant when her Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony was performed.  The dismissal took place when Shultz returned from her honeymoon 23 weeks pregnant.  After Shultz hired counsel, the synagogue offered to hire her back, but Shultz refused. The complaint alleges violations of New York city and state anti-discrimination laws and the federal Family Medical Leave Act.  The suit does not allege violations of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, presumably because of the exemption for religious institutions.

UPDATE: Congregation Shearith Israel denies the allegations in the complaint and says Shultz is still employed, receiving the same compensation and benefits, even though she has not bee at work since Aug. 14. (Forward, 9/27).