Above: A Monsey Trails bus
Updated at 10:07 am CDT 5-19-2015
Hasidic Bus Company Sued Over Alleged Gender Discrimination
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The hasidic-owned Monsey Trails bus company is being sued in a class-action lawsuit because it allegedly refuses to hire female drivers, the New York Post reported.
Monsey Trails, which is based in Brooklyn and owned by Skvere hasidim, runs regular shuttle service to and from New York City and Rockland County, where Monsey, Spring Valley, Ramapo and other towns with large haredi populations are located. Those routes are publicly licensed, run at scheduled times and are publicly subsidized. Additionally, many Monsey Trails buses are owned by Rockland County and leased to Monsey Trails for use on those routes.
In 1994, a Jewish woman filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Monsey Trails because she was told by haredi passengers to leave the men’s section of a Monsey Trails bus and sit in the back with the women.
That suit was settled out of court.
In that settlement, Monsey Trails agreed not to actively gender segregate its buses, even for the purpose of allowing haredi prayers to take place. It also agreed not to equip its buses with a mechitza curtain to separate the male passengers from women (or from the women and non-Jews), and it agreed not to advertise daily prayers in its timetables.
The lead plaintiff in the new class-action lawsuit against Monsey Trails is reportedly a licensed bus driver from Staten Island, Diana Luckey, who asserts Monsey Trails has never hired a female driver.
Monsey Trails is a for-profit company, not a religious organization, and as such likely will not be able to legally justify its alleged discriminatory hiring practices.
In 2013, Lakewood, New Jersey haredim gathered almost 1000 signatures – including the signatures of leading haredi rabbis – on a petition demanding that Monsey Trails gender-segregate its commuter buses with a physical partition. Those Monsey Trails buses ran regular routes between Lakewood and New York City, and Lakewood and Monsey-area haredi communities.
Monsey Trails responded to that petition by pointing out that gender segregation is illegal on publicly funded buses, according to a report on Behadrei Haredim at the time.
Monsey Trails used the situation in Williamsburg on the city's B110 bus – where similar gender segregation was illegally put in place by the hasidic bus company running the small bus route for the city – to explain why it could not comply with the demands made by Lakewood haredim. It is a public city bus route operated by a private hasidic-owned bus company. (The case of the illegal gender segregation on New York City's B110 bus was exposed in part by FailedMessiah.com.)