Just before she went on her honeymoon, a program director at Manhattan’s Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the country, confided to a co-worker that she was 19 weeks pregnant. The synagogue fired here upon her return.
The synagogue claimed it was reorganizing and her position had been eliminated. In return for a six-week pay severance package, she was asked to sign a release promising not to sue the synagogue.
Instead, she filed charges alleging the termination violated the. The synagogue has alternately claimed that she wasn’t fired, but her salary and benefits have remained the same despite the fact that she hasn’t worked since mid-August. In an amended complaint she disputes this.
Note: This case will turn on whether the synagogue can invoke the ministerial exception to federal employment laws. Religious institutions should consult with counsel when terminating potential protected class members.