Employee Harassed for Wearing Religious Head Covering in the Workplace
McKinsey & Co. is faced with a religious discrimination lawsuit that may be the first of its kind. In the lawsuit, recently filed in Manhattan federal court, a former employee of the company claims he was subjected to ridicule and taunts from co-workers after he began wearing a yarmulke at work. The man claims he complained to the Human Resources Department of the company but was told to “wait it out.” He claims he eventually went to the police after his boss’s ex-boyfriend allegedly threatened him for complaining about the treatment he was receiving. He was fired two days later.
But in an interesting twist, the twenty-nine year old man, Ciro Roselli, is not Jewish. Rather he practices “theosophy,” a spiritual philosophy which holds “there is no higher religion than truth.” Roselli explained to the New York Post “that he began exploring theosophy in 2007, shortly before he was hired by McKinsey as an executive assistant.” He continued, “it is all about finding the truth in religions . . . I’m still learning all the different facets.” It is this exploration into religion that allegedly lead to his wearing the religious head covering in the office, and the subsequent harassment he endured.
Roselli was allegedly subjected to a wide range of derogatory and humiliating comments from his co-workers and supervisors such as accusations he wasn’t “a real Jew,” being told to “Take that yarmulke off! You’re creeping me out,” and “you can’t be Jewish if you’re Italian.” One co-worker allegedly commented, “I guess I won’t be asking you for a loan”- seemingly “a reference to the stereotype that Jewish people are ‘cheap.’” Roselli also claims that his boss likened him to Madonna, allegedly drawing a parallel between the two’s “sudden embrace of Judaism,” even going so far as to send him an email with the subject line “Madge Roselli.” The popstar is known for having the nickname “Madge.” The former employee is now suing the company for discrimination and retaliation after his termination in April 2011.