Menu JTA Search

Dutch gov’t human rights panel backs Sabbath observers

THE HAGUE (JTA) — A Dutch governmental agency advised a security firm to hire a Sabbath-observing intern after ruling that employers may not reject Jewish candidates on the basis of their refusal to work on the Jewish day of rest.

The ruling came at the end of a hearing by the Board for the Protection of Human Rights, an advisory agency tasked with preventing discrimination, concerning the case of an intern that was rejected for a job because he would not work on the Sabbath.

In its ruling on Dec. 29, the board wrote that “refraining during Shabbat from certain activities, such as work in this case, may be considered a direct expression of religious conviction” and as such was protected by the General Dutch Law of Equal Treatment. 

The board ruled that for these reasons, “the interest of the applicant must outweigh the interest of the security firm, which seeks to offer its services 24/7,” and advised the firm to hire the Jewish intern. Its decisions are non-binding but usually respected.  

The ruling was posted on the website of the NIK, the Organization of the Jewish Communities in the Netherlands.

It was the second time in recent years that the board, formerly known as the Commission for Equality, has handed down a judgment protecting Jewish religious rights. An earlier judgment found in favor of a Jewish girl required to take a dentistry entrance exam on a Saturday.

The Netherlands has a Jewish population of approximately 40,000, according to the European Jewish Congress.

NEXT STORY