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SHAPIRO-GORDON v. MCI TELCOMS. CORP.

January 22, 1993

SHARI SHAPIRO-GORDON, Plaintiff,
v.
MCI TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORP., Defendant.


SWEET


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT W. SWEET

Sweet, D.J.

 Plaintiff Shari Shapiro Gordon ("Gordon") sued MCI Telecommunications ("MCI") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j) and under New York Executive Law, § 296(10)(a), alleging that MCI refused to hire her because of her religion. After a two day bench trial and upon the following findings and conclusions, judgment will be entered dismissing the complaint with costs to the defendant.

 Prior Proceedings

 The complaint was filed on June 22, 1990, issue was joined and discovery completed. The trial took place November 18-19, 1992, and final submissions were complete on December 22, 1992.

 At the end of March 1989, Gordon moved to New York from Columbus, Ohio where she had worked at Hyatt Legal Services. Gordon's work hours at Hyatt were Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. While at Hyatt Legal Services Gordon did not leave work early on Friday afternoons in order to observe the Sabbath. Although Gordon was Jewish, she was not Sabbath Observant at the time she lived in Ohio. However, early in 1989 she became engaged to the man to whom she was married later in the year after the events in question. He was Sabbath Observant. Gordon decided to become more observant once she moved to New York.

 In April 1989, Gordon contacted the employment agency of Bennett & Braun to assist her in finding a job in the field of personnel or human resources. Bennett and Braun had previously been contacted by MCI to seek suitable applicants for the position of Staff Assistant in MCI's New York City Human Resources office. Marc Fiore ("Fiore") of Bennett and Braun discussed the staff assistant opening with Gordon and referred her to MCI.

 On April 5, 1989, Gordon interviewed for the Staff Assistant position and met with MCI employees Catthya Britt ("Britt") and Judi Lindower ("Lindower"). Lindower was head of the MCI New York City Human Resources Department. On April 6, 1989, Gordon returned to MCI where she interviewed with Holly Kanski Simboli ("Kanski"), the Staff Assistant Gordon was being interviewed to replace. Kanski and Lindower are Jewish but not Sabbath Observant.

 During the MCI interviews, Gordon was told about the requirements of the job. Lindower informed Gordon that the staff assistant job was a hectic position, particularly on the day after payroll checks were distributed (every other Friday) since there were always payroll issues which had to be resolved. Fiore also discussed the requirements of the job with Gordon. Gordon did not mention to anyone at MCI during her three interviews anything about a need to leave early on Fridays.

 On April 6, 1989, MCI called Bennett and Braun to extend a job offer to Gordon. After Fiore told Gordon of the job offer, Gordon informed him she was hesitant to accept MCI's offer because she was becoming more observant and might need to leave early on Friday afternoons and would also be needing time off soon after starting a new job to be in the weddings of three friends in Cleveland. Gordon also informed Fiore she would need time off for her own wedding in November, and she was uncertain about how much time she would need off.

 After speaking with Gordon, Fiore contacted Lindower. Lindower was informed by Fiore that Gordon was marrying someone who was religious and that she was going to start observing the Sabbath, taking Friday afternoons off before dark to get home before sundown. When Lindower attempted to get additional information from Fiore to ascertain whether or not Gordon would have to leave early on Fridays, Fiore responded that Gordon was herself unsure. Because he could not answer Lindower's questions about Gordon's needs, Fiore suggested that Lindower and Gordon speak directly.

 On the morning of April 7, 1989, Gordon and Lindower spoke by telephone. Lindower informed Gordon that she wanted her for the position and wanted to find out more about her needs to leave early on Friday afternoons. Lindower had previously been involved at MCI in accommodating the needs of a Sabbath Observant employee.

 Gordon rejected MCI's job offer before Lindower had an opportunity to explore whether an accommodation was possible, indicating that she was not sure what she was going to do and would not have to worry about it for another seven months. Gordon also informed Lindower that she would be needing time off to be in her friends' weddings. Gordon informed Lindower that it probably was not a ...


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