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Joseph
Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5132
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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I was hired to work at a Synagogue as the receptionist and

Resolved Question:

I was hired to work at a Synagogue as the receptionist and communications person. I was doing a fine job but was demoted because I am not Jewish. Is this legal!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

Unfortunately, religious organizations are the only organizations that are legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, so I'm afraid that while extremely unfair, wrong, and unethical, the synagogue's decision to demote you on the basis of you not being Jewish is legal.

See here:

http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/religious-organizations-right-to-discriminate.html

If it is any conciliation, I personally strongly disagree with this policy, since it blurs the separation of church and state, by holding religious organizations to different standards than other employees. It is understandable that religious organizations are allowed to discriminate when hiring someone to perform services (e.g. it shouldn't be illegal to only hire Catholic priests or Jewish rabbis), but the exemption should really end there.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has not seen it this way, and recently even found that someone who didn't bring his or her complaints regarding disability discrimination to the church first in accords with their policy, could be legally terminated for not following church procedure.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-discrimination-laws-do-not-protect-certain-employees-of-religious-groups/2012/01/11/gIQAIbO4qP_story.html

Hopefully, the law will change on this, but I'm afraid that your synagogue's action in demoting you is legal, as incomprehensible as that is (and was to me when I discovered this in law school).


I realize the above information is not what you wanted to hear and I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX had better news to give you, but I hope you appreciate an honest and direct answer to your question. It would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.

Please let me know if you have any follow up or clarifying questions as I want to ensure that you are completely satisfied with my service. Please contact me first if you are contemplating leaving me a negative rating, as I’ll be happy to continue to address your concerns until you are completely satisfied with my service.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work.

Thanks and best of luck!

-Joseph

Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5132
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
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