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Rabbi Saperstein: "Todays unanimous decision in Lewis v. Chicago is a victory for civil rights, ensuring that firefighters, and others, who are victims of discriminatory practices in their workplaces can have their day in court."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24th, 2010 - In response to the Supreme Courts unanimous decision in Lewis v. Chicago, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Todays unanimous decision in Lewis v. Chicago is a victory for civil rights, ensuring that firefighters, and others, who are victims of discriminatory practices in their workplaces can have their day in court. The opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, declares that the statute of limitations for filing disparate-impact lawsuits expires not 300 days from the date the policy is adopted but 300 days from when it is applied to an individual employee/plaintiff. This welcome clarification removes a barrier that has obstructed access to justice, allowing disparate-impact cases to be rejected on mere technicalities.
The Union for Reform Judaism signed onto an amicus brief in this case, coordinated by the National Partnership for Women and Families National Womens Law Center, arguing that an individual must be allowed to challenge an employment selection or promotion policy that has a disparate impact whenever the policy is applied to that individual. This rule, the brief argues, is most appropriate because it is consistent with both the text and purpose of Title VII's disparate impact provision. We are pleased that the Court unanimously agreed with this analysis and strengthened protections against discrimination in the workplace.
The biblical mandates to treat workers justly remain as true today as when they were written. We hope that the decisions that the Supreme Court issues through the rest of the term will similarly embody the principles of justice and fairness.