Sunday, August 16, 2015

Agudah Constituent Services department asists in religious freedom case

The Constituent Services department has been receiving an increased volume of calls from employees and students complaining that their firms and schools are not respecting their religious rights for Sabbath and holiday observance.

Last week, Agudath Israel received a call from a young man in Phoenix, Arizona who is employed by a Fortune 100 company. He submitted a request for days off for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana and Sukkos and was denied. His supervisor warned him that if he was absent on those days, he would lose his job.
He had already submitted a claim to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) when he called Agudath Israel, but did not feel that they were helping him sufficiently. Agudath Israel emailed the client a memo on religious accommodation in the workplace, and then advised him to contact two lawyers from the pro bono legal network: Eric Stern in New York, and David Goldstein in Phoenix. Eric Stern sent the client a sample letter to send to his employer, and guided him on how to negotiate with them. David Goldstein volunteered to represent him if necessary. It seems that the efforts from these different sources bore fruit and the company relented and agreed to allow him to take the days off without penalty.

Agudath Israel receives many requests around this time of year from students who are having religious observance issues at their colleges. Many students have called to say that their professors are threatening to fail them if they do not show up to class or miss tests on Jewish holidays. Agudath Israel helps these students by sending them the texts of the religious accommodation laws in their state, and by giving them contact information for lawyers who can help them.

If you are an attorney and would like to join Agudath Israel’s legal network, please call 212-797-9000 ext. 335 or email

As a reminder, this Tuesday there will be a CLE symposium for attorneys dealing with end-of-life issues. Please see the flyer below to register or for more information.

If your religious rights are being challenged or you are in need of assistance with other issues, please contact the Constituent Services Department at 212-797-9000 ext. 335.

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