Sunday, February 9, 2014

How The City Won Their Attack On Williamsburg Stores, And Our Askonim Celebrated

 Bill Deblasio agrees that signs on stores, are discriminating against women

What Happened

City settles with Hasidic businesses over dress codes

The city "backed off" Tuesday from a lawsuit against Hasidic Brooklyn businesses that posted modesty dress codes in their store windows.

The Human Rights Commission "settled" with the seven Williamsburg shops on the eve of trial after they agreed that any future signs will say that everyone is welcome.

“Representatives from the stores agreed that if they were to post new signs in their windows, they would say that while modest dress is appreciated, all individuals are welcome to enter the stores free from "discrimination",” Commissioner Patricia Gatling said in a statement.

Lawyers for the Jewish stores - which were targeted in August 2012 for signs prohibiting bare feet, shorts and sleeveless or low-cut shirts - had a somewhat different interpretation.

“They're welcome - subject to dressing modestly,” said Jay Lefkowitz, who represented the businesses, said of future signs. “We're still working on the writing.”
While the city contended the signs in the shopping strip on Lee Ave., in the heart of the Satmar sect, constituted an implicit gender and religious "discrimination", the stores argued they’re no different than dress codes in fancy restaurants and other establishments.

“What's good for Manhattan is good for Williamsburg also,” said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the United Jewish Organizations. “We're very "happy" that the small businesses "cannot" be tortured anymore.” dumbest statement he ever made?

He called the commission's request Tuesday to up potential fines from $2,500 to $75,000 “an audacity and chutzpah.”

A counsel for the city said the proposed fine was actually to $7,500.

After a conference with Administrative Judge Kevin Casey, sources said, the city all but caved, settling the suit without fines or admissions of wrongdoing. except for the one thing the city was really after an agreement by the store owners that this was "discriminatory"

“The shopkeepers always said that nobody was actually excluded from the stores,” Lefkowitz said, adding the city never received a complaint from someone who was kept out. “Any future signs will make clear that everybody is welcome, which was the reality.” and according to the law not necessary (see legal analysis)
(Daily News) highlights my additions

Mr. Lefkowitz said the two sides were scheduled to appear for a trial before John Spooner, an administrative law judge for the commission, but another judge, Kevin Casey, took the parties aside for discussions. Mr. Lefkowitz said he had made it clear that the merchants would never pay “a single dollar in fines,” but were willing to state clearly that they did not discriminate on the basis of gender or race. A settlement was reached after an hour.

The signs posted in the store windows simply read, “No shorts; no barefoot; no sleeveless; no low cut necklines; thank you” or something similar and had not been the subject of any formal complaints by the public. Under the settlement, any signs the business owners post must make it clear that while modest dress is requested and appreciated, all members of the public including those dressed immodestly are welcome to enter the store.(Matzav)

Official statement by the Commission on Human Rights (the underlined and boxed words are key to understanding the rest of this article)

15 Points on this Tragic Event

What the Jewish community did by accepting the deal
1. By accepting the deal they showed they agreed with the government that a store mandating a dress decency code is "discriminatory".

2. They will have a lot of trouble mandating dress codes in the future (it's legal in NY for a woman to walk topless).

3. By caving in, the government will push even further on issues like helping out same gender "weddings".

4. Soon, the "suggested dress codes" will also considered "discriminatory"

5. By agreeing to this, we are showing the government that we think that the Torah only governs us in our house and our synagogues; that the Torah only governs us in private settings and that we should abandon the Torah in the public sector.

6. By agreeing with the city we caused a chillul hashem, showing we only care about money and not the Torah.

7. Al pi halacha this may have been a yehoreg ve al yaavor.

8. Since the city only cared about the principle and not money, we lost completely. There was no compromise:  the city had a complete victory.

What the city did by attacking us

9. They showed that they did not care about the actual text of the law which only forbade "refusing, or withholding accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges based on sex, or religion etc."

10. This shows yet again that the text of a law meant to promote liberalism (eg. hate crimes bills, bullying/teaching bills, anti discrimination bills), are, in practice. way more liberal then the text of the law actually allows.

11. The city doesn't consider religion as a bona-fide reason for dress codes

12. By only going after dress codes in religious stores as opposed to dress codes in fancy restaurants, they admit that according to liberal theology ONLY stores mandating dress codes based on morality/religious is "discriminatory" and wrong

what we as a United Jewish Community should have done
13. we should not have changed even a period or comma, on the original signs.

14.The Jewish community around NYC should have all put up similar signs so the city would have to go after all of us or none of us. By not doing so, they allowed the city  to" divide and conquer."


15. Why did our "leaders" celebrate when they should have cried?

Here is the relevant parts of the NYC Laws on discrimination

Who it applies to
9. The term "place or provider of public accommodation" shall include providers, whether licensed or unlicensed, of goods, services, facilities, accommodations, advantages or privileges of any kind, and places, whether licensed or unlicensed, where goods, services, facilities, accommodations, advantages or privileges of any kind are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available. Such term shall not include any club, which proves that it is in its nature distinctly private. A club shall not be considered in its nature distinctly private if it has more than four hundred members, provides regular meal service and regularly receives payment for dues, fees, use of space, facilities, services, meals or beverages directly or indirectly from or on behalf of non-members for the furtherance of trade or business. For the purposes of this section a corporation incorporated under the benevolent orders law or described in the benevolent orders law but formed under any other law of this state, or a religious corporation incorporated under the education law or the religious corporations law shall be deemed to be in its nature distinctly private. No club which sponsors or conducts any amateur athletic contest or sparring exhibition and advertises or bills such contest or exhibition as a New York state championship contest or uses the words "New York State” in its announcements shall be deemed a private exhibition within the meaning of this section.
In Short these stores would be considered public accommodations.

the highlighted portions are my comments in the law that are relevant to this case
4. Public accommodations. (a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place or provider of public accommodation because of the actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status of any person directly or indirectly not one of these groups was included on that sign , to refuse, withhold from or deny to such person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, or, directly or indirectly, to make any declaration, publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement, to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place or provider shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status or that the patronage or custom of any person belonging to, purporting to be, or perceived to be, of any particular race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status is unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited. so in short, the law has nothing to do with dress codes, yet liberals reinterpret this law to include any distinctions within any of the groups mentioned here, even though that is not in the actual law.

(b) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this subdivision shall not apply, with respect to age or gender, to places or providers of public accommodation where the commission grants an exemption based on bona fide considerations of public policy this exemption should have applied to these stores, even under their false interpretation of section A. By attacking these stores, they are saying that dress codes based on religion are not bona fide.
(c) The provisions of this subdivision relating to discrimination on the basis of gender shall not prohibit any educational institution subject to this subdivision from making gender distinctions which would be permitted (i) for educational institutions which are subject to section thirty-two hundred one-a of the education law or any rules or regulations promulgated by the state commissioner of education relating to gender or (ii) under sections 86.32, 86.33 and 86.34 of title forty-five of the code of federal regulations for educational institutions covered thereunder.
(d) Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to preclude an educational institution—other than a publicly operated educational institution— which establishes or maintains a policy of educating persons of one gender exclusively from limiting admissions to students of that gender.
(e) The provisions of this subdivision relating to disparate impact shall not apply to the use of standardized tests as defined by section three hundred forty of the education law by an educational institution subject to this subdivision provided that such test is used in the manner and for the purpose prescribed by the test agency which designed the test.
(f) The provisions of this subdivision as they relate to unlawful discriminatory practices by educational institutions shall not apply to matters that are strictly educational or pedagogic in nature.

According to the Yated this was even worse

The so-called ‘Williamsburg Modesty Case,’ which pitted Williamsburg shopkeepers against the New York City Human Rights Commission, was dropped Tuesday morning, as the trial was about to begin. According to our sources, during a conference in his chambers, Judge John Spooner urged the Commission to withdraw the lawsuit, because it would not stand up in court. The lawyers of Kirkland & Ellis, who had been defending the shopkeepers pro bono, celebrated another "successful" victory for Constitutional rights in America. 


If The Yated Is right

Why in the world would they settle?

and how could the Yated call this successful if they settled and losed?

Thankfully, the judge realized that the case had no merits, and urged the plaintiffs to withdraw their claim, instead of wasting the court’s valuable time. The Jewish community owes a debt of gratitude to the dedicated lawyers gave of their time, resources and talent to uphold these vital Constitutional Rights.(Yated
According to the Yated's own statements they already won why is the Yated saying thankfully ?

How our leaders (self appointed, elected) responded to our compromising into a utter defeat. 

Self Appointed leaders
David Greenfield

“I am pleased that these small business owners and the Human Rights Commission have come to a reasonable agreement. This was an unfair and unnecessary lawsuit that arbitrarily targeted these businesses while ignoring many others around the city that employ similar dress codes. As I said at the time, this was clearly another example of local government overstepping its authority and unfairly targeting the Orthodox community. I am very relieved that the merchants and the city were able to settle this matter without resorting to a trial,” said Councilman David Greenfield.(Matzav) in a press release

Moshe Dovid Niederman
 “We're very happy that the small businesses cannot be tortured anymore.” (DN)
Niederman said the community was very happy the suit was over. “We’re happy small businesses don’t have to make a decision [either] to pay a hefty fine or to put food on the table for their families.(JPost)
Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman said that the stores’ innocence had been “vindicated.” (Hamodia)

Gary Schlesinger Executive Board Chairman of United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations and Enrichment (UJCare) said: This lawsuit by the NYC Human Rights Commission singled out the Orthodox Jewish Community for its Modesty practices, Modesty helps enhance family values and quality of life and its a shame that the commission went this far to suppress our way of life so I am glad it’s over!(VIN) Sorry Gary your heroes are going to make sure that this is just beginning

Chaim Dovid Zwiebel and Agudath Israel of America
“While we believe that the signs, which simply requested that customers respect the community’s values with regard to dress, were entirely legal,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, “we are happy that the issue here is closed.” Zweibel added that he believes the suit “should never have been brought in the first place,” and that “the commission’s pursuit of the Williamsburg store owners raised serious concerns of selective prosecution.” 
Zwiebel also praised the newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for “apparently realizing the disturbing aspect of this suit, its lack of legal merit, and the need for reason and good will here.” listen to what BDB says Because of a rapidly growing population, the Orthodox Jewish community has become politically important in recent elections, and by many estimates is likely to continue to grow in both size and importance. The administration apparently did not want to be seen as picking on the hassidic community so early in de Blasio’s term, which was how many people had characterized the suit. (JPost)

While Agudath Israel welcomed the news, Rabbi Zwiebel also expressed his view that “the case should never have been brought in the first place,” and that “the Commission’s pursuit of the Williamsburg store owners raised serious concerns of selective prosecution.”  He praised the de Blasio administration for “apparently "realizing" that disturbing aspect of this suit, its lack of legal merit, and the need for reason and good will here.” (Matzav)

Agudath Israel of America greeted the settlement as "a sign of reasonableness" from the new city administration. (Yated)

elected official Steve Levin the worthless City Councilman from Williamsburg: To single out these small businesses from Williamsburg – businesses that are an important part of this community and who took down the signs in question immediately upon request – and to then impose thousands of dollars in fines against them, would have been an overreach and would have threatened their future existence. I applaud the commission for dropping this case and congratulate the small business owners and their lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis.” (JPost)

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