Judge strikes part of Bloom suit against Beth Shalom

Judge strikes part of Bloom suit against Beth Shalom

Congregation Beth Shalom
Congregation Beth Shalom

A federal judge has ruled that allegations of sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment should be stricken from Sandee Bloom’s complaint for employment discrimination against former employer Congregation Beth Shalom.

But her allegations that Beth Shalom maintained a work environment that was hostile to women; that women were treated as inherently inferior; and that Bloom was subjected to disparate treatment in her employment on the basis of her sex, were left intact.

Senior United States District Judge Maurice Cohill Jr. issued his written opinion on Jan. 31, after reviewing a motion filed by Beth Shalom asking the court to strike or dismiss portions of Bloom’s 113-page complaint in which she alleges that the Squirrel Hill congregation paid her less than her male predecessors for the months that she served as the congregation’s executive director, and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining about the unequal pay.

Bloom, of Monroeville, alleges that she worked at Beth Shalom in various capacities from June 2000 through October 2010, and that she served as executive director of the congregation for several months immediately prior to being fired.

Because Bloom is not suing for sexual harassment — but rather for unequal pay and retaliation — her allegations that various employees and lay leaders of the congregation engaged in sexual harassment are irrelevant and should be stricken from her complaint, the court held.

Moreover, because Bloom’s allegations of sexual harassment date back to 2003, they are outside the time frame relevant to her claims regarding her wages and treatment as executive director in 2010.

“[Se]veral of the allegations are impertinent and scandalous in that they name specific persons who have no connection to the claims set forth by Plaintiff and only serve to disparage such persons and appear to have no proper purpose in this action other than to embarrass such persons and the Defendant,” Cohill wrote.

Cohill further ordered that the present complaint be placed under seal “to avoid public circulation of the aforesaid allegations.”

Bloom is permitted to file an amended complaint and proceed with her claims that Beth Shalom paid her at rates less than it paid males for equal wok, and that she was fired after she complained about the unequal pay and disparate treatment.

(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at tobyt@thejewishchronicle.net.)

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