Brooklyn, NY – A group of storeowners in Williamsburg will be meeting with attorneys next month at a pre-trial meeting, after have been slapped with a lawsuit by the New York City Commission on Human Rights alleging that the stores’ policies of requiring customers to dress modestly is a violation of the human rights laws that prevent discrimination.
Seven stores, all located on Lee Avenue between Williamsburg Street East and Penn Street, were named in the complaint which was filed last August. Friedman’s Depot, Tiv Tov Hardware, Sander’s Bakers, Lee Avenue Clothing Center, Gestetner Printing, Greenfield’s Foods and Imperial Luggage all have signs in their windows advising patrons wearing shorts, sleeveless tops and low cut necklines that they would not be permitted inside and that barefoot customers would also be banned.
“There is no legal basis to this claim,” Devora Allon, an associate at Kirkland & Ellis, which represents the business owners, told VIN News. “No one has ever not been served because of these signs and discrimination would only apply if the signs were only enforced against women, but they address both men and women.”
According to reports on Israeli (http://bit.ly/X9lCsU) news source Haaretz, the signs, which are virtually identical, began appearing in store windows in 2011 and 2012.
VIN News obtained copies of all seven complaints filed against the storeowners from the CCHR.
According to the complaint, a CCHR employee visited the stores on July 24, 2012 and observed signs on the store windows stating “No shorts, no barefoot, no sleeveless, no low cut neckline allowed in this store,” and determined that it was a violation of the Section 8-107(4)(1) of the Administrative Code of the City of New York as it “expressly intended to deny patrons the advantages, facilities and/or privileges of a public accommodation based upon their gender and creed.”
In an interview Friday with VIN News, CCHR Deputy Commissioner/General Counsel Clifford Mulqueen said he could not recall the source of the original complaint that prompted his agency to take the action.
“The signs were brought to our attention by someone in the community, I don’t recall who,” said Mulqueen. “It could have been an email, a phone call or something on the internet. I don’t actually remember.”
Mulqueen said that to the best of his knowledge these seven stores were the only ones in the area which had the dress code signs posted and further differentiated between those signs and others found in locations that refuse entry to customers who are shoeless and shirtless.
“There is nothing wrong with a dress code, per se,” explained Mulqueen. “But there is something wrong with a public accommodation trying to impose its religious beliefs on other people.”
A pre-trial conference will be taking place on March 12th. Ms. Allon says she expects that there will be a mediation effort on that date but should those attempts fail, the store owners are ready to take their case to trial.
Kirkland & Ellis is representing the businesses on a pro bono basis.
“We are taking this very seriously,” explained Ms. Allon. “There are religious rights at stake here.”
I am not a lawyer, B”H, but I wonder whether a store can advertise a policy for their use of discounting. All prices can double, and those dressed with appropriate standards of tzniyus will be given a 50% discount at checkout. Does anyone know whether this can be challenged as discriminatory?
The city is barking up the wrong tree here. I don’t get what’s with the sonay yisroel bloomberg? I hope there’s a counter suit L the city looses
There are similar signs at rest areas along the ny state thruway at new Baltimore there is a sign that states “no shirt, no shoes, no service” what a bunch of hypocrites
Then they should counter-sue….all the fancy restaurants that stipulate a shirt, tie, jacket, no cut-off shorts/jeans, flip-flops etc. Why wouldn’t those rules be discriminatory? Do the signs say “goyim not allowed”? This is PC gone to AS- Anti-Semitism.
Let kevod shemayim show
What’s with these restaurant that have dress code’s for jackets?
Orthodox Jews need to understand that as our out of control leftist government grows ever larger, it will become increasingly impossible to observe Torah Judaism in the U.S..
The leftist democrat commissars running Washington and the commissars running cities like New York treat the US Constitution with utter contempt. The leftist’s perverse definition of “human rights” only seems to apply to illegal aliens, homos, criminals, and Muslim jihadists, but does not extend to Torah Jews or religious Christians.
The Democrat/Liberal agenda has proven to be a spiritual and financial suicide march for American Jews, especially for Torah Jews and the Jewish middle class.
Go to the NYC criminal courts where there is a sign that says: “No Tank Tops and No Shorts” Males with their pants low (predominately Black and Hispanic) are ordered to pull up their pants or leave the court room. Orthodox Jews who have hats as part of their religious garb are ordered to remove their hats or leave the court room. I guess it’s okay to have dress codes if they are not for religious reasons.
I’m not a pro tznius addict. But walking on the streets he minute the temp rise to 65+ and you see the half dressed people on the streets, I get very put off by its grossness. It’s become the norm for older ugly skinned humans to expose their eccetricness. It’s time the moral of life rose higher. Yes! If I’d have a store I wouldn’t want these people in there simply cuz it’s nauseating. I’m not at all a frumaholic.
There are Manhattan restaurants and everywhere that have signs about dress codes “jackets required” etc. There are signs at many beach front establishments that have signs that say “no bare feet” or “shirt required”.
The City will drop the lawsuit.
What about the common signs prohibiting barefeet and skates or skateboards? They Mayor should address those signs.
Reminiscent of the King of Denmark during WW II – how about EVERY business (frum, not frum, not Jewish) puts up similar signs in their establishments? Let the City try to sue everyone.
If this isn’t a blatant example of “getting at” Chassidim, I’m not sure what is. It seems it’s open season on us. Bring it on.
Many rest stops along the high way “shoe required” “shirts required”.
This is a another fundraiser, and should be handled by a “frivolous lawsuit” charge both in the civil court and with the NYS bar
I think I’m going to walk into a reform temple on fifth ave wearing a bikini bathing suit and see if they eject me during their services and sue their pants off. The hate against orthodox Jews is our own fault. We elect liberal skunks like schumer and than suffer. We deserve what we get. If we all went out to vote and do jury duty with a hundred thousand chassidim,there would be no more jury system in
Brooklyn. We need to band together and kick out every lousy anti frum politician. We can do it. We got turner and storobin elected because they oppose gays. Why are we so silly. We could defeat the liberals in NYC. We have in Brooklyn alone twenty five percent frum Jews. Wake up.
I can’t decide what is stupider, the signs, or this lawsuit. A plague on both their houses.
The fight is against williamsburg.
With all the medial coverage about child molestation the public is now against williamsburg.
It’s all the same thing,
– A williamsburg molester gets much more coverage and prison time.
– A williamsburg store is not allowed to put up signs.
It gets worse – this past Friday the news is covering about a 150 million lawsuit against the police and politicians who convicted a man for killing a williamsburg Jew in 1994.
The Justice system follows the public instead of the truth.
The laws in this country and state are so many that it is almost imposible for ANYONE to keep. (A lawyer could tell you how many hundreds of laws you break everyday).
This gives the choice of convicting whoever they want.
The laws then provide large Jail sentences for each conviction – that gives a green light to stack up convictions and lock up whoever the want for life.
It’s to put an end to the tsinus police thugs and all the fanatical ilk. Keep religeon all you want but stop forcing it on others.
“But there is something wrong with a public accommodation trying to impose its religious beliefs on other people.” So by that reasoning, a kosher restaurant can’t ban outside food. Anti-religious idiots are running this city. Starting with Bloomberg on down.
If I remember correctly, these signs were a response to a lawsuit of somebody claiming discrimination because of their way off dressing in a Williamsburg store. The shopkeepers opted to put up signs so nobody can claim it’s discriminatory, as the same rules obviously apply for everyone.
I don’t remember the exact details of that case perhaps someone can fill in the details.
And to #18 : I recently discovered that going topless is legal in NYC. For some reason, most establishments are “forcing their religion on others” as you say and frowning on such perfectly legal activity. But don’t you worry, once the city sues them all you’ll be free to practice your religion, I mean practice your artistic freedom or whatever…
Ok – this is a seriously groundless lawsuit. I’m SO against any “enforcing our tznius codes on others” but this is NOTHING of the sort.
IT is my store and I serve who I want. I was driving down south 35 years ago and went to a restaurant and could not get a coffee because I am white; so I left period. Don’t sue or call the police or government. It was the owners idea so what
Isn’t it just a bit brisk in New York nowadays?
While I am not at all Chassidic, they are clearly right in this instance, as many have pointed out, since these signs are commonplace in many other establishments. Is there any penalty that can be imposed on the ones filing this frivolous lawsuit, if they lose, to deter them?
It’s very simple Bloomberg and his Liberal Jew haters r out to break what they call the Shtetel way of life .
I think that what differentiates this sign from others at rest areas and restaurants is that it targets women and not men, although it does not state it directly. These people only have a problem with women dressed revealing but would barely care about how men are dressed.
So these stores do deny entrance to 70 percent of the NYC female population in the summer and that might be a violation of granting “privileges of public accommodation based upon gender and creed”.
As long as they don’t sue their pants off…
In addition to what has been pointed out in other comments regarding non-disputed dress codes all over the place, it seems to me that stores, although open to the public, are privately owned enterprises that should be able to post their preferences regarding what people wear on their premises. What about stores that post signs saying that “children must be attended” or theaters that ask patrons to take crying children outside during a performance–are they discriminating against parents? No, they are protecting their property and their other customers. If people don’t like the dress code in a specific establishment, they can “vote with their pocketbooks” and not shop there. In our litigious, anti-religious society this lawsuit is simply harassment.
im sure waldorf astoria requires a tie and jacket in the dining room…plus all the other clothes, so why single out the jewish establishments?
The signs should specify that the no topless or low cut policy applies to men and women.
Maybe the ban on soda is a discrimination against fat people?
Maybe a Jew can make a living off this thing.
there are states they can lock u up if your pants (men) hang to low on your tuces, what’s up with that?
There out to destroy Judaism. Let’s fight back. It’s easy and we are smart. We must stand up for our religious rights. Let’s demand city outlaw resteraunts banning customers who don’t wear jackets and hotels that have signs against walking in bathing gear in main lobby. We can start hundreds of lawsuits against the city. We must also demand that homosexuality becomes illegal as it causes aids and thousands of deaths each year unlike matrix ah bapeh. Stop kvetching and let’s vote the liberal skunks out of office. It’s simple.
To all commenters who were on Bloomberg’s side when it came to Metzitzeh B’Peh, here you got it! This was the idea why Agudah and OU mixed in to the Metzitzhe B’peh situation although they are not fully practicing MB. Now you all see it, just give him the go ahead with MB and here it starts. He’s in to bring us all down. We have another 3/4 year with this dictator, who knows what’s sitll on his mind.
I don’t know if all of you are aware of the turmoil going on in Israel nowadays for the deep rooted and ever expanding religious oppression going on there. Women are forced to sit in the back of buses by hassidic passengers. Women were actually arrested by police and face up to 2 years imprisonment – all because they “dared” to wear a Tallit at the western wall. The examples are too numerous to recount.
Anyway, here are my two cents:
1. The store owners are well within their rights to impose a sensible dress code – same as restaurants, or any other business which would not allow you to step in shoeless or without a jacket or whatever. It might be alienating and separatist, but it’s their right – and I believe the trial will amount to nothing.
2. I do, however, admire the American public’s vehement response against any kind of oppression or discrimination. This is not a simple dress-code restriction because of the “high class” nature of the business – this is a religious restriction and that is clear to all. People around here are touchy when their personal freedom is involved and I respect that. Israel has a lot to learn in this respect and I hope it does so fast.
They didn’t learn their lesson from Hurricane Sandy not to fight against the Rabbis?
This is what the govt is busy with , picking on religious Jews, instead of protecting us against terrorists & criminals.
This is freedom of religion at stake here. This is a private store, not a public accomodation. Make sure you sue the city if you find any discrimination at their
agencies!! Are no-smoking signs discrimination? Why aren’t Rubashkin & Pollard suing the federal govt?
The NYC public school system is horrible to religious Jews. My friend is not allowed to leave on time on Fridays & is constantly shamed & harassed.
The minority principals fire long-timers for no reason, harass teachers with disabilities.
It is forcing someone’s religion on another: they have the word “tzenua” in hebrew. Tzenua is a religious concept- unlike no tie/jacket rules.