Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jewish Sheriff's Office Employee Sues Alleging Religious Discrimination and Harassment

The Florida ACLU announced yesterday that it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Jewish employee of the Collier County, Florida Sheriff's Office alleging religious discrimination and harassment.  The ACLU summarized the complaint:
In 2009, Mr. Newmark requested religious accommodations to allow him to observe the tenets of his Jewish faith, including being allowed to not shave his beard and wear a head covering, and to have a schedule that accommodated his observance of the Jewish Sabbath as well as religious holidays like Passover and Yom Kippur.
Mr. Newmark’s requests for accommodations were denied, he was demoted from his position as an officer within the department’s gang unit to a non-certified civilian position of jail technician, and a campaign of harassment began that included being referred to by Sheriff’s staff as “a hairy Jewish mother-[expletive],” and having a Nazi Iron Cross flag placed outside his cubicle.
In 2012 – by which time Mr. Newmark had become a member of the Hasidic sect... Mr. Newmark was retaliated against for filing a complaint with the EEOC and threatened that he would  be forced to shave his beard and cease wearing his yarmulke.
The complaint (full text) in Newmark v. Collier County Sheriff's Office, (MD FL, filed 4/27/2015), asks for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Fort Myers News-Press reports on the filing of the lawsuit.