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May 17, 1991 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-05-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I NEWS I

Religious Bias Upheld As
Basis Of Firm's Lawsuit

Does your present alarm system:
• Tell police if you're home or away?
• Work when your phone line is cut?
• Prevent false alarms?
• Tell police which door or window is open?

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

Does your present alarm company:
• Have a UL approved central station located in Southfield?
• Offer radio dispatched patrols?
• Have 24 hour a day, 7 days a week service?
• Offer key vault service?

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34

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 1991

north of Square Lake Rd.
just past Carl's Golfland

Bloomfield Hills

338-7716

A

n obscure court deci-
sion in Washington
last week could have
important implications for
Jews who have felt the bite
of discrimination.
The case, Gersman v.

Group Health Association,

involved Alan F. Gersman,
owner of a Washington com-
puter security firm that did
business with the large
health maintenance organ-
ization.
According to the lawsuit,
an assistant to Mohammed
Ghafori, a new GHA manag-
er, asked Mr. Gersman if he
was Jewish. When told that
he was, GHA ended the rela-
tionship with the computer
security firm as a matter of
religious discrimination, ac-
cording to Mr. Gersman.
A federal judge in Wash-
ington ruled that Mr.
Gersman and his company
did not have the right to sue
under U.S. civil rights
statutes. Last week, that
ruling was overturned by
the U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals. Jewish activists
said the decision has mixed
implications for the Jewish
community.
The court ruled that the
company was allowed to sue
for discrimination — but not
Mr. Gersman, who failed to
demonstrate he was injured
by the alleged religious dis-
crimination.
"This is potentially a very
important case," said
Nathan Lewin, a leading
legal advocate for the Or-
thodox community. "What
the court basically said was
that based on the old civil
rights act of 1866, the right
to a contract is protected —
but this does not apply to
what somebody does after
the contract is concluded."
In other words, the rights
of Jews who - feel they have
been discriminated against
after a contract has been
signed are not subject to civil
rights protections — a deci-
sion Mr. Lewin sees as
potentially dangerous.
Calling the case "mostly a
negative one," Mr. Lewin
said, it "could make its way
to the Supreme Court" and
possibly become precedent
for the nation's judges.
Other observers suggested
the case was a clear example
of how the civil rights bill
now under consideration in
Congress would protect

Jews, as well as other
minorities.
"The language of the new
civil rights bill directly re-
sponds to the narrow
reading of this civil rights
act," said Marc Stern, legal
director for the American
Jewish Congress. "HR1 ex-
plicitly deals with the ques-
tion of continuing or renew-
ing contracts, which was the
issue in Gersman."
David H. Shapiro, an at-
torney for Mr. Gersman, said
the appeals court judges
were sending a clear and
ominous message to the Jew-
ish community.
"They are in effect telling
us that in current-day
America, if a restaurant
won't serve you because of
discrimination, you can
sue," he explained. "If they
won't let you on Amtrak you
can sue. If an employer dis-
criminates against you can
sue. But if a company won't
do business with you be-
cause you're a Jew, or be-
cause you hire Jews, you're
not protected."
Mr. Gersman will ask the
appeals court panel for a
rehearing. ❑

Religious Ban
On Fast Food

Tel Aviv (JTA) — The re-
ligious township of Bnei
Brak has banned hot pizza
because the fast food could
lead to contact between the
sexes, rabbinical authorities
say.
Two usually feuding
rabbis, Moshe Landau and
Nissim Karlitz, concurred on
the issue when they jointly
signed an order to pizza par-
lors and kiosks to stop serv-
ing hot pizzas.
The problem arose when
fast-food shops added hot
pizza to their menus, requir-
ing an operating license
from the religious au-
thorities.
Rabbinical aides explained
that the rabbis feared boys
and girls would have to
stand in the same line c(
waiting for their pizza slices
to be heated.
"They might look at each
K
other, an offense against
modesty, or God forbid, even
touch each other," the
rabbis' aides said.
But pizza fanciers needn't
despair.
They have rabbinical sanc-
tion to buy the product cold
and heat it at home, prefer-
ably in mother's kitchen.

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