New York - $40,000 Paid to Nurse Who Would Not Work on Sabbath
New York - New York City gave $40,000 to an Orthodox Jewish nurse to settle a discrimination claim filed after a city hospital withdrew a job offer because she wouldn't work on the Sabbath.
Alisa Dolinsky, a 34-year-old New Jersey resident, accused Color-Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility on Roosevelt Island of discriminating against her because of her religious practices. Observant Jews don't work from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.
The city denied any wrongdoing. But its Commission on Human Rights agreed last week to the settlement with Ms. Dolinsky, who never worked a day for the facility.
The case could be an embarrassment to the Bloomberg administration, which has worked to build bridges with the Orthodox Jewish community. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is Jewish. His press secretary, Stu Loeser, observes the Sabbath. And there are more than 1.4 million Jews in the area, many of them Orthodox.
Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bloomberg, said many agencies, including the police and fire departments, make religious accommodations for staff when possible. "Our city has a strong anti-discrimination policy and a strong independent Commission on Human Rights that works to ensure all New Yorkers are treated fairly," she said.
Ms. Dolinsky said that the incident occurred in 2007. "After they offered me the job, I told them that I wasn't able to work on Shabbat but I could work Saturday nights and Sundays. They told me if that's the case, if you can't work on Shabbat, we can't offer the job."
Officials at the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation said it tries to accommodate religious workers but couldn't rule out the possibility of rejecting another job applicant in the same circumstances. "As our facilities operate on a 24/7 basis, with nursing staff a critical component of our weekend coverage, it is not always possible to accommodate a request made by a nurse for religious observance leave on a weekend day," it said.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents an Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn, said Jews in both government and the private sector often lose job opportunities for observing the Sabbath. "It's amazing that here in New York that people don't understand that for a Sabbath observer it's not a choice."