The Schmooze

Nurse Wins $40,000 in Sabbath Discrimination Case

Everything seemed great in 2007, when registered nurse Alisa Dolinsky got offered a job by the Color-Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility on Roosevelt Island, part of New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation. But when the observant Jew informed her prospective employer she couldn’t work on the Sabbath, they withdrew the offer. Now, that decision has earned Dolinsky a $40,000 payout from the city’s Commission on Human Rights to settle a discrimination claim, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

“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,” Dolinsky, 34, told the Journal. “They told me if that’s the case, if you can’t work on Shabbat, we can’t offer the job,” the New Jersey resident said. The city denied any wrongdoing, according to the Journal. But its Commission on Human Rights agreed last week to the settlement with Dolinsky, “who never worked a day for the facility.”

The Health and Hospitals Cooperation said “it tries to accommodate religious workers,” the Journal reported. But a statement from HHC said “it couldn’t rule out the possibility of rejecting another job applicant in the same circumstances,” according to the Journal. “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,” the statement said.

The case “could be an embarrassment to the Bloomberg administration, which has worked to build bridges with the Orthodox Jewish community,” according to the Journal. “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.”

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Nurse Wins $40,000 in Sabbath Discrimination Case

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