Company Official Demands Employee Remove "Shabbat Shalom" Sign, Comparing It to "Swastika"
This has to be one of the most egregious violations of an individual’s religious liberty in the workplace that we’ve ever seen, and thankfully we were able to help achieve a quick victory for the employee who contacted us.
The ACLJ was contacted by a Messianic Jewish worker at a manufacturing facility who had a sign with the words “Shabbat Shalom” in Hebrew, a traditional Jewish greeting and symbol of peace, at his personal work station in celebration of the Ten Days of Awe. Many employees at this facility decorate their workstations with holiday displays, crosses, and other religious symbols. However, his supervisors decided that Hebrew writing, or maybe the Jewish religion as a whole, went too far.
When his boss asked him to remove the sign our contact went to his HR representative, stating that this was his right to keep the sign. The HR rep’s response was that if the company allowed him to keep his display then they would have to “allow someone to put up a swastika if they are a racist” as well.
It is absurd that the company official compared a religious observer putting up a Jewish symbol of peace to racists and the Nazi symbol of those who wanted to exterminate the Jewish people. As we’ve shared with you recently, antisemitism still rears its ugly head here in America, and this instance is a perfect example.
Thankfully, the worker knew his rights and contacted us! We provided him with a personalized legal letter explaining his rights under Title VII against religious discrimination.
He took our letter up to the general manager of the company, who promptly restored his right to keep his religious sign at work. In fact, the general manager decided to send our letter to the company’s chief of HR in order to make sure that all of its plants are properly protecting the rights of all its team members.
Sometimes stepping up to secure your rights, even if it seems a bit intimidating, not only protects you but ensures that the rights of everyone around you are protected as well. The ACLJ’s letter was able to make a difference for the religious observance of all the people who will ever work at this national company. Consider how we might be able to help you in your workplace, and reach out to us at ACLJ.org/help.
As the year comes to a close, please continue to be vigilant in knowing your rights. Safeguarding against religious discrimination is a fundamental principle in this country, and the ACLJ will continue fighting to protect individuals’ rights in the workplace.