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November 19, 2009

B & H Photo, Satmar-Owned Mega Electronics Store Sued For Sex Discrimination

B & H Photo "I asked to work in sales and make more money, but was told that no women were allowed in sales for religious reasons."


Earlier, B&H agreed to pay $4.3 million to settle a discrimination case about Hispanics getting paid less than others, and the company failing to promote them or provide health benefits.


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Women file suit against B&H Electronics
Carolina Leid • WABC News

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A sex discrimination lawsuit has been filed against one of the best-known electronics stores in New York.

Four women accuse B&H Electronics of workplace promotions that were discriminatory.

The four women claim B&H refused to give them sales positions because of their gender. Three applied for jobs, but were turned down. The other currently works as a cashier.

"I felt hurt because I didn't feel it was fair due to the fact that I'm a woman," employee Nakisha Cushnie said.

In the lawsuit, Cushnie alledges, "I asked to work in sales and make more money, but was told that no women were allowed in sales for religious reasons."

"It was very stressful," she said. "I have a family to support. The salary needs to be a lot better. I was very upset to hear I couldn't be a saleswoman."

Cushnie has worked for B&H since April. She says she quickly realized working in sales would give her the best salary. She says it's not easy raising her kids on $9 an hour as a cashier.

"Out of the 75 employees working in the store, not counting cashiers, there was a grand total of one woman," attorney Richard Ancowitz said. "It's kind of surprising that in this day and age, 2009, that we would see such blatant and obvious gender discrimination."

The plaintiffs are asking for more than $7 million in damages.

Two years ago, B&H agreed to pay $4.3 million to settle a discrimination case about Hispanics getting paid less than others, and the company failing to promote them or provide health benefits.

The New York institution employs 800 to 900 people, many of whom are observant Jews.

"I knew there's no reason why I couldn't work anywhere," plaintiff Juana Lora said. "I wasn't considering if they were Hasidic or not. I know I'm qualified to do a job, and I went in there to apply for a job."

B&H attorney David Eisenberg told Eyewitness News he can't comment on a case his office hasn't seen.


Comments

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It's funny. The Haredim will claim freedom of religious conscience when it suits them, but there, they tell this (presumably) non-Jewish woman that she too must adhere to Haredi Jewish religious sentiments.

Interesting. Very interesting.

From a different article:

"Naskinsha Cushnie and three other female job-seekers claim discrimination. Cushnie says she was told she couldn't move from cashier to sales clerk because Jewish law forbids it..."

Jewish law forbids it? That's some excuse............

Halacha = Shariah.

Is a private business owner not allowed to create the kind of environment HE sees fit for HIS PRIVATE business? He is not telling anyone how to act or control anybody, he just wants his business to look a cretin way.

If a posh clothing boutique only wants to hire beautiful looking women to work on the sales floor in order to create an image and/or to lure men in, is that a problem? Or is this just a problem because it's coming from a religious jew.

True Justice said: "Is a private business owner not allowed to create the kind of environment HE sees fit for HIS PRIVATE business?"

No. There are federal, state, and local laws affecting non-discrimination in employment.

True Justice said: "he just wants his business to look a cretin way."

I know this was just a typo, but I had to repeat it for laughs.

True Justice:

We have laws in this country, The 13th and 14th amendment to the consituion and the variosu civil rights bills. If the haredi want to live in a Torah True state they can continue their horthodoxization of Israel-but here they are limited to defrauding the government and not paying taxes.

By the way, I purchased about 1 grand in photo equipment from B&H Photo back in 2001.

I had read many reviews of the the New York area photo equipment stores (almost all Haredi owned), and the all had reputations for being Ganevim -- except for B&H, which most agreed were upright.

Also will echo Danny's words: B&H has a superlative reputation among both amateur & professional photographers. They are honest and the salespeople know their stuff.

I will take exception, however, to the claim that almost all of the NY area photo stores are Hareidi since MANY of them are owned by Sephardim (Abes, Beach/Buydig, etc).

Prospective buyers should always first check out resellerratings.com.

I just bought $1,056 worth of stuff from B & H. It was delivered yesterday. Yes, the salespeople know their stuff and are honest. They're more knowledgable than their main competitor, J & R, at least in my experience.

There is, however, absolutely no reason why a woman can't be just as knowledgable and just as honest.

Beach/Buydig is also an excellent store. Didn't know those guys were Sephardic.

>>...he just wants his business to look a cretin way.<<

Freudian typo?

B & H has the prices, even better then the Internet.

I'm not sure it is discrimination as we think of it. Perhaps they are thinking of customers not wanting to shake hands with a woman, that type of thing. I don't know.
The profit motive is strong, and everybody from jewelers to pharmaceutical houses are hiring female sales reps, so I'm sure B&H is not blind. Perhaps we should firt hear out their motives.

Just saw this posting on techbargains.com (I am in Black Friday mode and have a trigger finger on a couple of items, one of being a big screen TV and a 24"+ monitor. I already pulled the trigger on a new digital camera - Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3S.)

Sony KDL-46V5100 46" Bravia V Series LCD HDTV

Full HD 1080p Resolution Motionflow 120Hz Refresh Rate

Bravia Link Expansion Capability 4 HDMI Inputs PC Input

USB Input for Photos/Music/Video

$ 1,039.95 w/free shipping. Thats a $400 discount.

B&H Photo
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/604934-REG/Sony_KDL46V5100_KDL_46V5100_46_Bravia_V.html

show me a clothing store on madison avenue that will employ an ugly or fat person, a person over a certain age or a hassidic jew to a sales position.

someone please explain to me why women, jews, blacks etc. continuously exploit and abuse the justice system with this bull.

Bulvan,

Abercrombie and Fitch has been sued and paid out millions of dollars in settlements for discriminatory hiring practices.

An update on my Sony KDL-46V5100 post. XPBargains just showed an even better deal.

----------------------------------

Amazon has the Sony BRAVIA V-Series KDL-46V5100 46-Inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV, Black for only $1040 + Sony BDP-S560 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player at $211 - $250 off this combo = $1000 w/ free shipping. Tax only in KS, ND, WA.

Add both to cart and you will see the $250 discount on the last screen during checkout before you confirm your order.

The 13th and 14th amendment are irrelevant to most employment questions. They are restrictions on what the federal and various state governments are allowed to do. The "interstate commerce clause" in Article I has been interpreted extremely broadly ever since FDR, to the point that just about anything counts as interstate commerce nowadays. Our government, for better or worse, has passed numerous antidiscrimination laws all over the map, because they can.

For those who learned in a yeshiva high school: lawmaking by the US government is restricted by the Constitution in several ways. Two significant ways are that not only are the laws not supposed to impinge on rights granted by the Constitution, they are not supposed to even exist without prior Constitutional justification for the contents of the law. Today, "commerce clause" is pretty much a no-brainer freebie.

OTD for a reason,

1. The key phrase in your comment was "settlements". They did not admit wrong doing. They simply want to stay out of the hair of Sharpton and similar union-types who will strong arm these companies with boycott and negative PR threats.

2. You will still not find any store on Madison Ave. with ugly/fat/old/hassidics working in them, nor will they ever hire such people. Also, one word: Hooters. 'nuff said.

3. I don't see this is a black and white (no pun intended) issue. Still, I lean towards letting a company decide on their own hiring practices. Keep the freakin law and the lawyers and the idiot government out of it.

You can discriminate on the basis of looks, and even on the basis of sex, but only when it is essential to the job. You do not have to hire a man to be the attendent in the ladies room, or to be the lifeguard in the mikvah. (Darn, that was the job that I really wanted.) BTW, Shmarya, since you found a source in the Shulchan Aruch that requires the Obama Health plan, perhaps you know where the S.A. has decided that women can only be cashiers, not salespeople?

I found a source that explains a doctor's requirement to heal even if a patient cannot pay, and a patient's requirement to pay all he has to be healed.

I also cited the S.A.'s requirement that the community support a poor person at his previous level of living, no matter how opulent that was.

As for cashiers, I suggest you ask the Mishane Halachos. He must have one he's made up.

rabbidw,

"essential to the job" is a relative term. The cases you listed were clear, but who decides what is essential in cases that are less clear.

is it essential to have beautiful people in American Apparel? if so, can they determine that it is essential to have beautiful girls only (or more of them)? what about essential to have beautiful white girls (or more of them)?

Bulvan, when you are told that you cannot be a sales person because you are a woman, then that is sexual discrimination and you have grounds to sue.

I remember when all airplane attendants were female and called a stewardess. Not any more, the men sued, itseemed being female was not a requirement of the position. The sky's have not been so friendly since then. Show me where a penis and testicals are required to sell computers and I will allow B&H to continue to discriminate.
And Shmarya, you did NOT cite where the S.A. says what you say. I am aware of the stories that might be goals of righteous people, but I am not aware of any halacha that gives Mrs. Madoff a blank check claim on Jewish charity because she lived high on the hog for years. Citing S.A. does not mean saying the S.A. says, it means telling us Section, Chapter and paragraph. You would like the S.A. to call for Obama Care. It does not. If it does, show us where. And do not tell me it is a mitzvah for the doctor to heal the sick. A mitzvah does not convey an halachic right. The doctor treats sick people all day. Not even a slave has to work 24 hours a day. What are the parameters of this obligation? You have an obligation to put on tefillin, but that does not convey upon me the right to break into your house in order to assist you with this task, even if I have heard you are slack in this mitzvah

First H&H now B&H. What's next?

Is a private business owner not allowed to create the kind of environment HE sees fit for HIS PRIVATE business?

Were you on acid during the 1960s? See, there was this thing called the civil rights movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You should ask your librarian to point you to some resources to learn more about it.

Bulvan, you have obviously never shopped the men's clothing stores along Madison in the 40's and 50's, nor the women's clothing stores above 60th St. Nor have you ever been, also in that neighborhood, to Barney's, or Bergdorf Goodman's. You will see a wide variety of shapes, sizes, ages, genders and colors among sales staff.

The smaller super-high end Italian shops (such as Brioni, Borelli, and Kiton) hire mostly staff trained in and relocated from Italy. They rarely, if ever, hire a walk-in.

Other super high-end stores such as Turnbull & Assner and Oxxford have blacks, Hispanics, and obese people working sales there. i challenge anyone to find classier shops or with better sales staff or merchandise than those stores.

Neimann Marcus in Short Hills has a salesman who wears a yarmulke. I've seen him in action, and he seems like a polite and professional person.

Jobs in any of the above-mentioned stores are for career sales professionals, not the walk-in dilettante. By the time you qualify for such positions, you have honed your appearance, dress, and grooming to look the role, as well as your 'people skills' to be polite, professional, and knowledgeable.

Bulvan, you have obviously never shopped the men's clothing stores along Madison in the 40's and 50's, nor the women's clothing stores above 60th St. Nor have you ever been, also in that neighborhood, to Barney's, or Bergdorf Goodman's. You will see a wide variety of shapes, sizes, ages, genders and colors among sales staff.

The smaller super-high end Italian shops (such as Brioni, Borelli, and Kiton) hire mostly staff trained in and relocated from Italy. They rarely, if ever, hire a walk-in.

Other super high-end stores such as Turnbull & Assner and Oxxford have blacks, Hispanics, and obese people working sales there. i challenge anyone to find classier shops or with better sales staff or merchandise than those stores.

Neimann Marcus in Short Hills has a salesman who wears a yarmulke. I've seen him in action, and he seems like a polite and professional person.

Jobs in any of the above-mentioned stores are for career sales professionals, not the walk-in dilettante. By the time you qualify for such positions, you have honed your appearance, dress, and grooming to look the role, as well as your 'people skills' to be polite, professional, and knowledgeable.

There was a time in this country, and it wasn't that long ago, when Jews were excluded from many jobs and educational institutions simply because they were Jewish. Help wanted ads would explicitly state "No Jews need apply" Job applications would ask for a person's religion. Jews were routinely denied jobs on that basis as well. The same laws you that have you so incensed opened the doors for us in the recent past.

Would you people be so complacent if it were a male Jew denied a job in a camera store because of his religion? It works both ways. A woman who's qualified to sell cameras or tech gear should not be denied a job because the business is Satmar owned. The odds are most of the clientele are not Hasidic. They generally don't have televisions at home.

Yossel, good point. The same civil rights laws that protect other groups- minorities, women, gays, the handicapped- also protect Jews.
For some strange reason, some Jews don't think they have to obey those same laws when they are in the position of power.

First H&H now B&H. What's next?

Preparation H?

And Shmarya, you did NOT cite where the S.A. says what you say. I am aware of the stories that might be goals of righteous people, but I am not aware of any halacha that gives Mrs. Madoff a blank check claim on Jewish charity because she lived high on the hog for years. Citing S.A. does not mean saying the S.A. says, it means telling us Section, Chapter and paragraph. You would like the S.A. to call for Obama Care. It does not. If it does, show us where. And do not tell me it is a mitzvah for the doctor to heal the sick. A mitzvah does not convey an halachic right. The doctor treats sick people all day. Not even a slave has to work 24 hours a day. What are the parameters of this obligation?

The points I made are basic halakha for refuah and for tzedaka.

Do I really have to dig out exact citations for you?

++Shmarya | November 19, 2009 at 08:46 PM++

Shmarya, that's the funniest line of the night!

Shmarya, You are talking mussar. Yes, find the citations.

A lawsuit should definately be brought against B&H, but it should be for making those G-d-awful amature crap radio comercials ("you go to B&H"). Now, thats what I call discrimination--discrimination against anyone with good taste!!

I'm tempted to send all the stuff back and buy the same camcorder and accoutrements from J & R. Both charge the same, $624.95. B & H charges a little less for the same-brand batteries and charger.

http://www.robertsimaging.com/

http://www.centralcamera.com/home.php

Mr. A, try one of these places next time. Their service over the phone is outstanding. You will be speaking to someone at the counter who can open the package and describe it to you. They're good with canceling orders and returns, too. Absolutely no gray market bullsh!t, as may be the case with the 'cheaper' merchandise at B&H.
J&R can be difficult for returns and exchanges.

Right here in NJ, we have Beach Camera of Maine on Rt. 22 and Buydig.com out of Edison. The same folks own both.

I have found Beach Camera to be very good, although they try to push their own off-brand batteries and chargers, at least on the Internet, and not stock the name brands (in this case, Canon) which the manufacturer strongly recommends.

B & H, to their credit, always labels what's gray market and what isn't. Their website is quite clear on that.

Not sure if this is really relevant, but I do notice that they close at 1PM on Friday and are closed all day Saturday; these are heavy traffic days, so they miss out on a lot of money by sticking to their beliefs. I say this not so much to excuse the discrimination, but to point out that they are not just using their religion as an arbitrary "excuse". So again, I know it does not have any legal bearing on the case, but I truly believe they have a lot of integrity and are good people.

I'm the lone woman that worked at B&H that the attorney is speakng of. I was laid off two weeks ago, so, I can talk about it. Let me school you: If tznius was such an issue, the store shouldn't have permitted salesmen to wait upon female customers. I shouldn't have been there as a vendor's representative.

B&H is "private" company only so far as their stock is not traded. They are a business open to the public, and as such, under the EEOC, they can't use the "religious exemption" since non-Jewish males work at B&H. Gay men work there. but, for some reason, they simply can't "find" qualified female photogs, sound people or even computer geeks to hire. How odd, that

Under Federal Law, they can't discriminate. Oh, yes, they get around it by never having "qualified" women apply, but it's hypocrisy pure and simple. But, maybe B*H prefers doling out large sums of money for treating their non-Jewish employs badly - like the Hispanic warehousemen who settled for 4.3 mil for not being paid appropriately, promoted or being provided health benefits as required by law.
Consent decree: http://ohsonline.com/Articles/2009/03/28/B-H-Foto-Agrees-to-Pay-to-Hispanic-Workers.aspx

B&H has a very bad track record when it comes to non-discrimination of non-white, non-Jewish "menials" such as cashiers and warehousemen.

They make me ashamed of being a Jew.

Lawsuit amended against B & H
More women are coming out and accusing B & H, the electronics superstore in Midtown Manhattan, of sexual discrimination. Three women joined a lawsuit filed last November in State Supreme Court in the Bronx alleging that they were denied sales positions because they are women. That raises the total number of plaintiffs in the case to seven.

Richard B. Ancowitz, the lawyer for the women, released the following statement: “B & H did not hire these women who were qualified to work in sales, yet they hired numerous males to work in sales with equal to or less experience including several males with criminal records. B & H didn’t care, as long as they weren’t women. Since we filed the suit late last year B & H has hired a few token females in high visibility positions. B & H essentially remains a closed shop — only men need apply.”

The company has denied any wrongdoing

More information at http://bhsexdiscrimination.com

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