Orthodox Woman Files ‘Modest’ Lawsuit

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The laws of modesty, tznius, are making news. And raising this question: Does an Orthodox Jewish woman have the right to wear a skirt even when a company dress code calls for pants only?

Hadas Goldfarb is about to find out. Goldfarb, 26, a certified paramedic, is suing New York Presbyterian Hospital and FDNY for employment discrimination over their refusal to permit her to wear a skirt – any skirt, even with pants underneath – on the job.
After the hospital hired Goldfarb as a paramedic, she was given an employee manual that includes an item on acceptable attire. Skirts are expressly prohibited. When Goldfarb explained to a supervisor that she does not wear pants for religious reasons, and requested a dispensation to wear a skirt, she was refused, and her employment terminated before it had even begun. The supervisor cited “safety concerns,” though never specified what those might be.

In her complaint filed last week in New York State Supreme Court, Goldfarb asserts that the hospital failed to provide “reasonable accommodation” to her religious observance, as Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act requires. The hospital has yet to respond to the lawsuit, which has already garnered media attention.

Meanwhile, also last week, a federal court in New York dismissed a suit brought by an Orthodox woman over her right to wear a skirt – not on the job, but at the gym. Yosefa Jalal had sued Lucille Roberts Health Clubs for failing to make an exception to its dress code policy so that she could wear a modest skirt while exercising on club equipment.
In that case, Jalal was suing under Title II of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion and other grounds in places of “public accommodation.” The judge found the health club’s rules of attire do not unfairly target Jewish women.

Jalal alleged that she had exercised for years at the club in a skirt, until a manager stepped in and objected. Similarly, Goldfarb asserts that she worked for years as an emergency responder in her native Cleveland, wearing a skirt without incident. Her complaint also claims that many ambulance companies allow paramedics and EMTs to wear skirts on the job, and cites the example of Judge Rachel Freier of Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jew who has worked for many years as an EMT while maintaining modest attire.

So does the decision in the Jalal case foretell a similar outcome for Goldfarb? Not at all, says Goldfarb’s attorney, Joey Aron, of Aron Law PLLC.

“Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for their employees’ religious observance, while gym owners and other businesses do not have that same duty toward their customers,” explains Aron, who specializes in employment law.
“These cases deal with different issues and were brought under entirely different sections of the statute.”

Aron says, “We live in a great country where religion is not only protected, but valued. As a father of three young Orthodox girls, my greatest hope is this action will enable them to pursue their professional dreams without compromising those values.”

By Ziona Greenwald – Matzav.com

7 COMMENTS

  1. Chazal knew what they were saying when they said Kol kevudah bas melech penimah.
    If a job requires pants only, look for another job that permits the wearing of a skirt.

    • A) Yes, it would be nice if she didn’t have to earn money and stay home – would you be willing to pay her kids’ yeshiva tuition? No? Then perhaps you would look smarter not to bring your first argument.
      B) Why should this job require pants only – any clothing with enough freedom of movement should be fine. Pants is clearly an arbitrary requirement. Would you be OK if some job would create an arbitrary requirement of no kipa?

  2. I cant imagine she was fired for that. There are so many skirt wearing , frum workers, nurses included all over the city. you do a good job then you keep the job.

  3. Try jumping in and out of an ambulance with a skirt, especially on a windy day, great show. IDF females wear pants on duty, it would be interesting if they had to wear skits in and out of military machines, why do you think they are required to wear pants, they also would be endangering their missions if they had to fight skirt flying up all the time, same with ambulance personnel.

    • She can wear some sort of heavy-cotton long uniform skirt – it won’t fly up. Besides, it’s not like EMTs do acrobatics anyway, contrary to whatever you saw on TV. Regarding IDF, do you realize the feebleness of your argument: the fact is that most IDF females are not in combat units and could very well be wearing skirts, but don’t have this option due to the arbitrary(or deliberate) rules; as IDF is ran by the anti religious chilonim, who are trying to force their pants-wearing feminist ideology upon others.

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