By IKIMULISA LIVINGSTON
July 16, 2007 -- A Brooklyn man is suing JetBlue Airways, claiming he was fired after he told the company's CEO, a Mormon, that he was an observant Jew and couldn't work on Saturday.
In his suit against the Queens-based airline, Joseph Bunick, 31, said he applied for a job in customer service in 2005.
He said he interviewed with recruiters and told them he was an observant Jew and could not work on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath. He was told it would not be a problem, he said.
"They called me back to tell me I got the job," Bunick said. "I came to the first day of training . . . so excited about the job."
During training, he repeated he could not work Saturdays and was told it would not be a problem, he said.
But things changed when he met then-CEO David Neeleman, a Mormon, Bunick said.
"I told him I'm an observant Jew and I know there's a training on Saturday, and I told him I won't be able to make it," he said.
Neeleman's reaction was negative, he said.
"The next day, I realized it was all over for me," Bunick said. "All the recruiters approached me. They told me, 'If you can't be here and work on Saturday, you cannot work here.' "
Bunick said he still attended the daily training, except for Saturday. The next Monday, he was fired, he said.
A JetBlue spokesman said the airline "does not discriminate against employees based on religion or any other protected classification."
"Not only does JetBlue refute Mr. Bunick's allegations, but the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] - the agency assigned to review such allegations - could not substantiate his claim and dismissed his charge of discrimination."
Last August, Faisal Baig, 40, a pilot who was born in Pakistan but came to the United States at age 7, filed a bias suit against the airline. Baig said JetBlue fired him on the grounds that he was "a security risk" because of where he was born.