Commission rules that a Jewish CUNY prof was discriminated against by faculty caucus that purposely held meetings on Shabbat.
By: A7 & JNS
A Jewish professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) who brought a discrimination case to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was vindicated in a ruling that found he and other observant Jewish colleagues were excluded from faculty meetings due to being an “observant and or Zionist Jew.”
The plaintiff, Jeffrey Lax, also alleged that he was “subjected to anti-Semitic comments despite having made ongoing complaints.”
In a statement, the EEOC said, “The commission’s investigation reveals that charging party and other similarly situated individuals were discriminated and retaliated against because of their religion; including, that respondent rejected charging party and other similarly situated individuals’ membership of the Progressive Faculty Caucus of Kingsborough Community College. In addition, witness testimony corroborates that respondent failed to take corrective action despite the numerous complaints it received in connection with religious discrimination.”
The board ruling sided with Lax’s 2019 civil rights case against CUNY and its affiliated college, Kingsborough Community College, where he works at a business professor. Lax had alleged that the Progressive Faculty Caucus had purposefully held meetings on Shabbat so that observant Jewish faculty would be unable to attend.
In June, Lax and other faculty announced they were resigning from the CUNY faculty union over a one-sided anti-Israel resolution containing an accusation of “apartheid” and calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions.
At the time, the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported that the 47-year-old Lax was appalled by a recent 83-34 vote by the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY on a June 10 resolution that condemns “the continued subjugation of Palestinians to the state-supported displacement, occupation and use of lethal force by Israel” and also “racism in all its forms including anti-Semitism, and recognizes that criticisms of Israel, a diverse nation-state, are not inherently anti-Semitic.” The resolution also called Israel an apartheid state and made no mention of Hamas.
“Whoever wrote this was not very intelligent,” Lax told JNS in a phone interview. “You can’t have it both ways. If Israel is an apartheid state, how can it also be a diverse nation-state? It’s clearly an anti-Semitic trope to call it an apartheid state. Do they not know that there are Arabs in the government? They serve on the Supreme Court and make up 20 percent of the population. It’s absurd. Facts matter.”
Lax, who is also an attorney, said he was quitting the union because he doesn’t want his money to go to Jew-hatred. He said union dues are about 1 percent of his salary. He noted that in a letter, he wrote to PSC president James Davis and made it clear that just because a resolution says it’s not anti-Semitic does not make it so. He said the resolution also seeks put an end to American financial support to Israel, which is tantamount to divestment and a third of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement known as BDS.
(INN & JNS)