The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America has called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a decision from a lower court requiring applicants for employment to disclose their religious observance during a hiring interview or anytime during the hiring process. The high court is scheduled to hear the case in question, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. this term.
The Orthodox Union joined other leading Orthodox Jewish organizations in filing a “Friend of the Court” brief authored by noted attorney Nathan Lewin. The brief argues that compelling such disclosure during the hiring process permits a potential employer to discriminate against an applicant who would be entitled to a religious accommodation. Because such discrimination could occur during the hiring process, there would be no way for the applicant to prove that he/she was a victim of religious discrimination. In the brief, Mr. Lewin noted his own experience with religious discrimination. Lewin recounts that he was the only Harvard Law Review member of his law school class who did not receive an offer of employment from any of New York City’s leading law firms. Since his resume included Yeshiva College, Mr. Lewin was often asked if he observed the Sabbath during interviews.
Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union stated:
“The ability to join the work force is foundational to anyone’s participation in society and contribution to the economic growth of the country, and an American’s religious observance must not be a barrier to entry. When Congress amended the Civil Rights Act to require employers to make reasonable accommodations for religious employees and potential employees, observant Jews across the country gained access to careers they otherwise would not have had. We urge the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the lower court permitting employers to inquire about religious observance during the hiring process. Neither Sabbath observant Jews nor Americans of other faiths must be forced to choose between their career and their conscience.”