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MTA Worker Had to Prove He is Jewish To Take Off on Rosh Hashanah

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Working for the MTA comes with many excellent perks due to their powerful union but try taking a Jewish holiday off.

By Henrietta Fishman 

A Jewish MTA conductor claims the agency is discriminating against him by telling him he must prove he’s Jewish in order to take off work for Rosh Hashanah, News 12 reported 

Officials with Transport Workers Local 100 told The Hill that the transit authority initially denied Benjamin Schaeffer, 22, permission to take the Jewish new year off. The MTA later said Schaeffer would be allowed to take Rosh Hashanah off, but he would need to document his observance of the holiday, the union officials added.

Schaeffer says he followed the MTA time-off policy and submitted paperwork for the day three weeks in advance but had his request denied. After contacting the Transport Workers Union, he says the MTA told him he could have the day off if he provided the documentation – but didn’t specify what documentation was needed, according to News 12.

Since this story came to light the MTA responded to local media with a statement from an  official spokesperson saying: “ We value and respect our employees’ religious beliefs and make every effort to accommodate requests for time off. This request was received after all leave slots for this day and job title had been distributed, but the supervisor involved made an exception for Mr. Schaeffer and granted him the day off. This issue has been reviewed by NYC Transit supervision and no documentation will be requested in this case of Mr. Schaeffer”

 Initially the union officials said an MTA supervisor told them there were “many employees who request to have days off for religious observance and are not granted due to the slots being full, and the high need for personnel. So in order to try to accommodate the employee’s and be fair, I am requesting documentation”, according to the Hill 

This smack of anti-Semitism, and is definitely anti-worker,” the union said in a statement to the Daily News. “What kind of railroad is MTA Chairman Pat Foye running?”

“This request was received after all leave slots for this day and job title had been distributed, but the supervisor involved made an exception for Mr. Schaeffer and granted him the day off. This issue has been reviewed by [New York City Transit Authority] supervision and it was confirmed that no documentation is necessary,” the MTA spokesperson concluded in statement to The Hill

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