Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Holy Uniform

A Guest Post by Rafi G

Here is an unusual story I would like your thoughts on. It tags along with DovBear's recent post about people with the bags on their hats...

In brief, a haredi guy, Reuven, with 12 children, got a job with Egged as a bus driver. When he first started out he took the job and came to an agreement with the recruiting agent that he would be able to daven with a minyan 3 times daily, and that he would be able to continue dressing as he was used, like a yeshiva guy - white shirt, tzitzis hanging out, etc. 

For two years he drove, and was praised for his work, without switching to the Egged uniform, and his branch manager allowed him to not wear the Egged uniform of a blue shirt. He had an ishur, and he was allowed to continue in his ways.

Eventually, he was at a conference of drivers, and someone higher up noticed he was dressed differently than the others. He was then told that if he does not switch to the Egged uniform he will no longer be able to drive for Egged. He refused and was fired.

1. I always like how the haredi websites report and overblow all such stories, and they do in this case as well, that haredim are involved in as "a shocking incident" as if everything is anti-haredi racism (it might be, but I don't believe it always is, as they report it).

2. I don't know why he considered it such a big deal that he had to change his shirt, that he was even willing to give up his job for it. There is no mitzva to wear only a white shirt. Plenty of companies and offices have dress codes and/or uniforms that all employees must wear. Requirign employees to adhere to the dress code is not racism or anti-anything, just simply enforcing uniformity and company policy.

Schools also have uniforms and dress codes. If a kid entered his kids class and said he did not want to wear the school uniform but to continue dressing as he did before, do you think his school would allow that? Do you think he would like having such a kid in his childrens' school? of course not!

There is nothing wrong with a person changing his shirt for the office uniform, and then when he goes home, or before that in the Egged locker-room (if there is one), changing back into his kollel clothes.

To treat the white shirt as sacrosanct to the point of giving up a job when you need to support 12 kids is ridiculous.

The only thing in his favor is that he has their previous approval. The problem with that is that whoever approved it might not have been authorized to give such approval. So he got away with it for a while, but eventually he was noticed. Also, a company generally has the right to change uniforms, dress codes, and policy in the middle of employment. they offered him the option of wearing the uniform, and I assume they followed the law in firing him for a change in policy (it doesn't say otherwise so I assume it was all legal - they gave him proper reparations after he refused the terms).

What do you think about this? Should he have the right to dress how he likes and ignore the dress uniform? Is this simply anti-haredism?

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