Legal

Anti-Semitism at Work

By Jon Hyman

Oct. 29, 2018

The devastating events of this past weekend served as a sobering reminder that anti-Semitism not only still exists, but it’s thriving.

The reality is that anti-Semitism never went away. It has always been there, bubbling under the surface. The current climate in our country, however, has given it permission to boil over.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic attacks have increased 60 percent since 2016. It’s the largest increase since the ADL starting tracking these statistics.

And, you can bet that if anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in the country as a whole, they are also on the rise in your workplace.

Whether it’s debates among your employees about “the Jewish question” or George Soros, or more blatant attacks like images of swastikas or Adolph Hitler.

When I was in college I worked summers in a warehouse. There were only two Jews in the entire workplace — the company’s owner and me. One of my workers, upset that he had been denied a raise, hanged the owner in effigy on a giant swastika, with the message, “Cheap Jew.” My (not unfounded) fear is that these attacks will rise in frequency given the current state of our country.

What can you do?

Be aware.

Be open to complaints.

Be vigilant in treating any anti-Semitic message or attack the same as any other unlawful harassment in your workplace. Investigate, and take corrective action to ensure that it does not happen again.

 

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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