Settlement Reached in NY Shabbat Dispute

NY State Attorney General announced a settlement with a company accused of discriminating against Shabbat-observant employees.

Rachel Hirshfeld,

Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat Shalom
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement on Friday with Milrose Consultants, an architectural and engineering consulting firm, for failing to reasonably accommodate the religious observance requirements of a prospective Jewish employee.

After an investigation into Milrose’s practices, the Attorney General determined that the company maintained a “no religious accommodations” policy.

The settlement will ensure that current and future employees’ requests for religious accommodations are handled in accordance with the New York State Human Rights Law, Title VII and the New York City Human Rights Law, according to a press release.

“A company depriving current or future employees of their religious rights is intolerable -- no one’s employment should be endangered because he or she observes the Sabbath,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The law ensures that employees can balance the requirements of their faith with the responsibilities of their work. My office will continue to both protect the religious freedom of employees, and educate employers about their obligations to respect the faiths of their workers.”

In 2011, the Attorney General launched an investigation into Milrose after receiving a complaint charging that the company rescinded an employment offer after discovering that the employee observed Shabbat and would need to leave work early on Friday afternoon in order to return home before sundown.

The settlement requires Milrose Consultants to create new policies concerning religious accommodations, inform employees of their right to request a religious accommodation, and train managers to ensure that these requests are evaluated in accordance with the law.

In November 2011, Attorney General Schneiderman launched a Religious Rights Initiative, which is dedicated to combating religious discrimination, investigating religious freedom violations and ensuring that anti-discrimination laws are aggressively enforced.

“People of faith shouldn’t be forced to choose between observing the requirements of their faith and their job, despite the laws that protect religious practice at work,” asserted Michael S. Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

“We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts to protect the religious rights of all New Yorkers in the workplace,” Miller added.