N.Y. Supreme Court Orders Human Rights Commission to Reconsider Sabbatarian Complaint

The New York State Commission on Human Rights was ordered today by the State Supreme Court to reconsider a complaint against the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company by an Orthodox Jew who had been refused a job because he had insisted he would have to absent himself from work on the Jewish Sabbath.

According to the original complaint, Bernard Rubin had informed the Commission that, after passing a series of company examinations as a computer programmer, he had told his prospective employers that, as an Orthodox Jew, he would not be able to work on the Sabbath and would have to be excused from his job earlier than the usual quitting time on Friday afternoons, during the winter months. He claimed that he was then turned down for the job on the grounds that the company could not accommodate its work schedule to his requirements.

The National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, an Orthodox group, took the Rubin complaint to the Human Rights Commission which twice refused to entertain it on the grounds that there was no law to compel the prospective employer to honor Rubin’s request. Last month, however, the complaint was filed with the State Supreme Court, after the Federal Commission on Employment Opportunity had set up new guidelines under which commercial firms were required to hire an applicant like Rubin, unless they could prove that use of such personnel would result in substantial harm to the firm.

Taking the new guidelines into consideration, State Supreme Court Justice Jacob Markowitz today remanded the case “for further consideration” by the State Commission.

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