A recent case ruling may have significant impact on what constitutes race in race discrimination cases. In that case, a state court determined that Jews may be considered a race and entitled to protection under federal anti-discrimination law, i.e. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VII protects employees against many forms of discrimination including race, gender, national origin, sex or religion.
In this instance, a football coach asserted that he was passed over for a job as a football coach based on what the school president called "Jewish Blood." The coach filed a claim pursuant to Title VII arguing that he was entitled to protections afforded to racial and ethnic groups under the law. Despite numerous legal holdings that discrimination against Jews can be considered racial discrimination, limited case law exists forbidding employers from discrimination against those of Jewish descent in the workplace.
The court affirmatively held that Jews should be treated as racially protected in the workplace, just as any other racial or ethnic group, noting "Jewish citizens have been excluded from certain clubs or neighborhoods, and they have been denied jobs and other opportunities based on the fact that they were Jewish, with no particular concern as to a given individual’s religious leanings...Thus, they have been treated like a racial or ethnic group that Title VII was designed to protect from employment discrimination based on membership in that group.”
However, whether Jews should be considered an ethnic/racial group is hotly debated, with one prominent rabbi noting, “We’re not a race because you can’t convert to a race. You can’t decide to be black tomorrow,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s not a religion because you’re not born into a religion. It’s a category that does not fit neatly into 21st century American ways of thinking. It’s sort of a religious family.” Regardless, the opinion is important as it will provide additional protections against discrimination,” especially as the incidences of anti-semitism continue to rise.
For more information or if you believe you have suffered any type of employment discrimination, please contact the dedicated Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.