Man sacked over Sabbath working rule wins damages
Richard Zilberg, 54, a Jewish hairdresser in Montreal, has been awarded $12,500 in damages following his sacking in 2012 for working on Saturdays.
Zilberg was hired at the Spa Orazen salon in October 2011 and worked six days a week, including Saturday, the busiest day of the week.
But salon owner Iris Gressy, who is also Jewish, got it into her head that her Jewish employees should not work Saturdays. She not only ordered him to stop working on the sabbath, but told him to not tell clients why he was no longer available.
Gressy fired Zilberg the following month after she learned he had told a client that his employer had prohibited him from coming in on Saturdays because of his faith. She accused him of breaching confidentiality.
This week judge Yvan Nolet of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Gressy’s decision to prohibit Zilberg from working on the Sabbath violated his right to equality in employment due to his religion.
In an interview on Thursday, Zilberg said he was very happy with the ruling, even though he was awarded less money than sought on his behalf by Quebec’s Human Rights Commission.
It’s been almost five years and I’ve had to have a lot of patience to get through this. But I stand by my beliefs and what I believe in.
In the Jewish philosophy, in the Jewish faith, there is zero tolerance for discrimination, even if it is amongst ourselves. Even if it’s a Jew against another Jew.
The dismissal of Mr Zilberg is based, on part, on religious grounds. The decision to forbid Mr.Zilberg to work on the Sabbath because he is Jewish violates his right to freedom of conscience and religion as well as to the safeguard of his dignity and the respect of his private life.
Zilberg was awarded $6,006 in material damages, $4,000 in moral damages and $2,500 in punitive damages.
The Human Rights Commission had been seeking a total of $20,000 on Zilberg’s behalf.