New York Association Sued for Discrimination Against Religious Members
A New York community association is facing a discrimination lawsuit brought in federal court by Jewish members of the community who say that the association is hostile to their religious practices. According to the members, the association has adopted rules that are “expressly designed to harass Hasidic Jews.”
The community is home to 15 Hasidic families who say that members of the association board have amended bylaws that make life in the community difficult for them. Last September, the association amended bylaws to designate Sunday as a “home and family day of tranquility” and to prohibit commercial transactions. Hasidic Jews observe the Sabbath on Saturdays and customarily conduct commercial activities on Sundays. The new rules, the lawsuit contends, are meant to prevent real estate brokers from showing properties to Hasidic clients.
The board allegedly adopted bylaws that disallow the use of eruvs, markers that are significant to practicing their religion. One member was fined more than $10,000 for installing them and was required to remove them. Jewish holiday decorations have also been removed, while Christian families, the lawsuit states, are allowed to put up outdoor Christmas displays and adornments on their properties.
Jewish members of the community have also been fined for renting their homes to other Jewish families, while residents who are not Hasidic and who rented homes to people who are not Hasidic were not fined, the complaint claims. The lawsuit cites violations of the federal Fair Housing Act and other federal and state laws. The association hasn’t commented on the lawsuit as of now.