To Wear or Not to Wear?? The City Insinuates Itself Once Again


Seems like the blatant, in-your-face hypocrisy of the Bloomberg administration is now substantively escalating in concurrence with the spring temperatures.  Well, what else is new? Taking on patently ridiculous issues has quite often animated the Mayor and his loyal underlings.

This time around, it would appear that city’s Commission on Human Rights is targeting Chasidic owned and operated stores in the city’s traditional Orthodox Jewish area of Williamsburg. The city’s beef with these seven small stores, you may ask?? Turns out that the owners have posted signs asking their patrons not to wear shorts, or go barefoot or sleeveless or not to wear low necklines.

The city has apparently taken umbrage at the perceived  “audacity” of these Williamsburg shop owners in their request to maintain a modicum of modesty from their customers.  Truth is, the issue does not revolve around the Chasidic community’s stringent rules about austerity in dress. They are not asking anyone to change their lifestyle or to comport to their own belief system.

What they are asking essentially bears a strong resemblance to the request made of upscale restaurants when they post asking their male customers to wear a jacket and tie. No one from the city’s many different “rights” councils seems to have uttered a word of protest or expressed any outrage or indignation over that wardrobe request.   Since the signs were first reported about last summer, an official from the city’s legal department said they were not in violation of anyone’s civil or human rights.  Only a year later, the general counsel of the commission has suggested that the signs are telling people to adhere to the tenets of the Jewish faith, which would  thereby cross the invisible boundary into establishing a protected class.

The bottom line is that even pizzerias and other restaurants post signs saying that no service will be provided to those customers not wearing a shirt or shoes, yet no one interprets this message as crossing a boundary and establishing a protected class. Thus far, not one person has been denied service and anyone who is turned away because of their attire or lack thereof can change their clothes and receive service just like the next person. What is of paramount importance here is that the accusation of the establishment of a protected class would have egregious ramifications for others who could certainly be subjected to discriminatory practices but that is not the case at all.

Citing First Amendment religious liberty issues is a top New York law firm who is representing the seven stores in Williamsburg, pro bono.  It doesn’t take that much wisdom to realize that this evidences the fact that this bogus accusation from the city has no legal legs to stand on.

The City would do well to focus on authentic and genuine discrimination under the law, rather than sitting around while scratching their collective heads as they attempt to conjure up modalities to manufacture some hated filled behavior. And just think !! We, the hard working taxpayers are the ones who are bestowed with the privilege of paying the hefty legal fees for the city’s council.


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