Hassidic camera giant denies it discriminated against non-Jews

B&H photo equipment giant says claim it only paid 'baby bonus' to Jewish employees is 'misleading', denies it hired undocumented workers.

Tzvi Lev,

B&H photo store in Manhattan
B&H photo store in Manhattan

Decrying "false and misleading claims", the New York-based B&H photo equipment store is denying reports that it discriminates against its non-Jewish workers.

On Wednesday, the New York Post reported that B&H is facing a lawsuit from disgruntled employees who alleged that the hassidic camera empire routinely discriminated against its non-Jewish employees.

According to the lawsuit, B&H, which is run by Satmar Jews, would award its Jewish employees $2,000 upon having a child while not giving the bonus to non-Jewish workers.

Court papers said that "when each of its Jewish employees had a baby, B&H awarded the employee a $2,000 bonus plus two paid days off but did not grant its non-Jewish/Mexican employees a similar award when they had children".

The report also said that B&H would attempt to hire illegal immigrants, who they allegedly called "stupid Mexicans” and told employees that “their religion is fake.”

The allegations were hotly denied by B&H, who wrote in an open letter to its 2,000 employees that "the suit is riddled with preposterous claims and outright lies that were disproven in prior actions".

"A few years ago, B&H settled claims with warehouse employees that we are all familiar with. Three employees did not accept the settlement. On Monday, the lawyer representing these employees filed a lawsuit containing various sensational claims. The lawsuit was settled two days later. The lawsuit’s claims were misleading and inaccurate, and were resolved years ago," wrote B&H management.

B&H also denied that the company attempted to hire undocumented immigrants, something it called "obviously not true" and said that the "baby bonus" was far lower than reported.

"It is also disappointing that B&H’s practice of recognizing when our employees celebrate the birth or adoption of child or of an employee’s wedding or the wedding of a child with the gift of $180-$250 has been misrepresented and used to defame the company," read the missive.

Founded in 1973 by Satmar hassidim, New York's B&H is the largest single camera store in the United States. The store famously does not allow website purchases on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

The current lawsuit is also not the first time B&H has faced allegations of discrimination, with the firm paying $4.3 million in 2007 to settle accusations of anti-Hispanic bias.