Saturday, August 23, 2008
woman fired for refusing to work on Shabbat
Holmes Place gym demands that employee work on Jewish day of rest despite observing tradition
Israel Jewish Scene
“I can’t understand how people are made to work on Shabbat in a Jewish country,” says Shimrit Tzuberi, 25, who was recently fired from her job at the Holmes Place gym franchise after refusing to work on the Jewish day of rest. Shimrit’s father died a few months after she began working at the Holmes Place branch in Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers. In light of his death, Shimrit decided that she would like to begin abiding by tradition and stop working on Shabbat.
The branch she worked at permitted her to refrain from working on Saturdays during the customary year of mourning.
However, a short time after the year’s termination, the branch’s management called the worker in for a meeting and gave her a letter clarifying that she is obligated to work the Saturday shift and that if she doesn’t do so, she won’t be able to continue working there.
During the following three weeks, Tzuberi was asked to work on Shabbat a couple of times, and after refusing, she received a letter of dismissal.
The Holmes Place franchise claimed on Thursday that “Tzuberi was not fired for not working on Shabbat and holidays but because of our dissatisfaction with her work, and this was clearly explained to her in the conversation we had about her dismissal.
“Throughout her employment in the club, the management received complaints regarding her service and her attitude. The management conducted a few meetings in which Shimrit was warned, and it was clarified to her that her behavior is unacceptable and warning letters were also sent to her on this issue.”
'Shimrit trying to obtain more money'
Tzuberi's lawyer, Attorney Yonit Shlain-Ben Or from the Israel Religious Action Center, claimed that Holmes Place’s version was inconsistent with the facts.
According to Ben Or, “Shimrit did indeed receive a warning about her work. If the problems continued afterwards, why did Tzuberi remain in her position for another year and a half in which she also instructed new girls on the position?”
Ben Or added that “instead of finding unjustified claims regarding the reasons for her dismissal, it is worthwhile for the company to come and thoroughly examine the reasons Tzuberi was fired.
“The struggle for the freedom of religion in Israel has to include defending a person’s right to refrain from working on the day of rest and to note the Sabbath in accordance with their world view and faith. The fact that Shimrit turned to an organization that works within a framework of Reform Judaism proves that the struggle for religious freedom serves all sectors of Israeli society; seculars and religious alike.”
The Holmes Place franchise responded by saying that “the reasons for Shimrit’s dismissal were practical even though she is pretending that they are religiously-connected. Shimrit received everything she was entitled to receive upon her dismissal and is trying to unacceptably receive additional money from the company.
“In general, it is important to emphasize that the Holmes Place franchise employs religious people and claims have never been made about the company treating these workers unacceptably or rudely or dismissing them over their religiousness.”