(JTA) — The French-Jewish owner of a chain of clothing stores was found guilty of discriminating against a Jewish job seeker because he gave non-Jews, whom he could ask to work on Shabbat, preference over Jewish applicants.
The ruling Wednesday by a judge from the Correctional Tribunal of Paris against Dan Cohen, co-founder of the Eleven Paris chain, followed a lawsuit filed against Cohen in 2012 by a Jewish man in his 20s who briefly worked at one the chain’s stores before he was fired for being Jewish, the Le Parisien daily reported Thursday.
The court made Eleven Paris pay a total of $16,250 to the claimant in damages and another $8,000 to cover legal expenses.
The ruling was based on the claimant’s testimony about a conversation he had with another employee of Eleven Paris who told him, at the end of a 15-hour trial period as an Eleven Paris sales representative, that his Jewishness was the reason he was not hired. Cohen, the other employee told the claimant, “doesn’t want Jewish employees because he can’t have them work on Shabbat,” the Jewish day of rest, according to the testimony.
The claimant, who was not named, also presented recordings of telephone conversations he had with a mid-level employee at the firm, which has 120 employees, who said that managers “out of a faith choice, don’t want to make Jews work on Shabbat precisely because they are practicing Jews.”
According to Orthodox law, Jews are allowed neither to work nor to encourage other Jews to work on Shabbat, though they are allowed to hire non-Jews to do so.
In court, Cohen’s lawyer, Patrick Klugman, who is also Jewish, said Cohen’s firm had no such policy and that the employees who explained it did so on their own initiative, but the court found this explanation “less than plausible,” Le Parisien reported.
As for the claimant, his lawyer said he was not religious and would have gladly worked on Shabbat.