Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation

Butler County Judge Hit With $1.1M Verdict for Firing Staff Attorney After She Asked for Time Off for Jewish Holidays

Emanuel Shirazi

A former magistrate was awarded more than $1.1 million on Friday after she sued her old employer for religious discrimination. Kimberley Edelstein had been working for Judge Greg Stephens of Butler County Court of Common for a few months in 2016. In July 2016, she asked to use eight non-consecutive vacation days during October to celebrate the High Holidays. Edelstein claims the judge responded angrily saying “holy cow, eight days”. Kimberley explained the need for the days off and mentioned that the previous judge, who she had worked for the past 8 years, had let her take the days off. The judge let her take the days off, however the next morning he took the steps to fire her. On August 1, 2016, Kimberley Edelstein was officially fired.

Kimberley Edelstein accused Stephens of having an indoctrinated attitude against the Jewish community and mentioned an incident that occurred where his court had made fun of her Passover preparations. According to a recent survey, a significant amount of hiring managers are less likely to consider candidates who are Jewish. This survey started a conversation regarding the rise of antisemitism in the workplace as well as in the United States.

According to Judge Greg Stephens, Kimberley was terminated due to internal issues that had been occurring between Edelstein and other coworkers. The judge claims that these issues caused a negative and disruptive work environment. His attorney added that Stephens did not fire her because of her religion and noted that Edelstein was replaced by a Jewish magistrate. The local legal community also spoke about her poor reputation in the courthouse. A Jewish former assistant prosecuting attorney in Butler County told a local Jewish newspaper that many people had advised Judge Stephens to terminate Edelstein when he took office. Edelstein represented herself in the proceedings. A local attorney joined her for a few weeks but left the case because his client would not cooperate with counsel.

Kimberley claims that her termination and the negative comments made by her former employer and coworkers within the legal community, destroyed her career. She applied to approximately 200 jobs and did not get one. According to her acquaintances, Edelstein would comment on how she regrets her beliefs and wishes she wasn’t Jewish.

The trial began on January 23 and the jury returned its verdict on Friday, February 3. The jurors found a violation of the First Amendment’s right of free exercise of religion. The defendant’s attorney stated that they strongly believe that the evidence did not support the verdict.

The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please. Federal employers are prohibited—in California and under Federal Law—from discriminating against employees or applicants for employment because of their religious beliefs.California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer, including any supervisor, from harassing an employee based on their religion or creating a hostile work environment because of their religion. Employees may also not be mistreated or discriminated against at work because of their religion.

Recent Posts