34 year-old Alisa Dolinsky will receive $40,000, pursuant to charges of New York City religious discrimination, according to an article in the Associated Press.
The orthodox Jewish nurse applied to work at Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island in 2007. Initially, the hospital offered her the nursing job, but rescinded their offer when Ms. Dolinksy stipulated that she would not work on the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday evening through Saturday evening). Since the hospital operates around the clock, seven days a week, administrators determined that they couldn’t afford to hire Ms. Dolinsky when other applicants might be able to provide more complete coverage. The New York City Commission on Human Rights brokered the settlement, although the hospital did not admit any wrongdoing, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Cases of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and religious discrimination at work often serve as cannon fodder for employment blogs, pundits, and academics. This case, even in its condensed form, appears pregnant with interesting ethical questions. For instance, how long does a religious Sabbath have to be to constitute a serious inconvenience? If Ms. Dolinsky had been a member of another religion that required her to take off six days a week (and work only one day), common sense would dictate that she would not be an appropriate job applicant for the hospital. Conversely, what if she only had to take off half a day a week? Or a quarter day? Would that constitute a significant enough impediment to her working at the hospital? Where do you draw the line, time-wise?