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Sep 13, 2009

the holy uniform

Here is an unusual story I would like your thoughts on.

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?

23 comments:

  1. That is patently ridiculous. The egged uniform isn't something that any of the demographics that drivers come from feel comforatable with pe se (the Chareidi driver is probably the only one who owned a tie prior to it)
    Should Chareidi surgeons not wear greens? Should Charedi litigators not wear robes. etc...?

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  2. Strange as it may seem to you, in this case I am with Reuven. Hate uniforms when there is no special need and/or justification for them.

    But it's a personal outlook, otherwise there is a grain of truth in what you are saying.

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  3. snoopy - you might hate them personally, but a company that uses them and wants its uniform to be enforced has that right. regardless of an individual employees personal fashion tastes.

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  4. I think it is a shame that some much em[phasis is put on clothing and chavel he gave up his job for a stupidity like this. I hoep others learn from this. maybe they should allow the arab to wear his kafiah as well. Someone should have spoken to this driver and set him straight.

    kol tuv,

    Baruch

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  5. The guy didn't think that there was a problem in being a driver, having to look at women,some of them not dressed with tsnius, but only in wearing a blue shirt.
    As for letting him wear a white shirt, I don't know. If one wants to make it possible for charedim to join the work force,one needs to accomodate them.

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  6. בכל עת יהיו בגדיך לבנים ושמן על ראשך לא יחסר

    :)

    טלית שכולה תכלת חייבת בציצית

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  7. I agree with you, Rafi. it's unfortunate that the waiver was taken away from him, but the bottom line is that he has a large family to support, and wearing the uniform does not violate halacha in any way.

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  8. While I sypathize with those who say that clothes aren't important in terms of doing a good job, in some cases they are critical. Imagine if a (non-undercover) police officer could wear whatever he wanted to work. People who needed help would have no quick way of identifying him.

    The same is the case with a bus driver. While not as critical as with a cop, riders on the bus need to be able to quickly identify who is in charge when he is not driving. Granted, those cases are few and far between, but in the event that the driver is not at the wheel, it is more likey than usual to be imporant to be able to find and identify him quickly.

    Also, unfair as it may be, people do judge others based on their appearances. If a company wants a certain look among those who are daily contact with their customers, it's not unreasonable that they require their employees to comply.

    Disclaimer: Any responses along the lines of "what was the last time you were on a bus and had to identify the driver but couldn't", will instantly lead to me considering the poster in question stupid, so don't even bother.
    :)

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  9. Yoni,

    when was the last time you were on a bus and had to identify the driver but couldn't?

    I couldn't resist.

    --Stupid
    :)

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  10. oh-oh-magen-avot!!September 13, 2009 6:00 PM

    Rafi wrote: "Schools also have uniforms and dress codes."

    You are right, but the BLUE SHIRTS ARE FOR GIRLS!!!!!

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  11. in a way i feel bad for the guy. here is willing to buck the trend (i assume not to many haredim work as egged drivers) but he can't because of a uniform disagreement.

    YONI:

    a uniform is important for a bus driver?

    i remember back in the day when the egged "uniform" was sandals, shorts, and a shirt with enough buttons open to reveal a jungle of chest hair.
    when did egged get so haughty?

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  12. stop treating them like little kids. society is so used to bending over backwards for these Chareidim who act like spoiled brat kids...(me me me, boohoo you were mean to me)

    here's a thought for them - grow up.

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  13. LoZ

    a uniform is important for a bus driver?

    i remember back in the day when the egged "uniform" was sandals, shorts, and a shirt with enough buttons open to reveal a jungle of chest hair.
    when did egged get so haughty?


    Let me get this straight. I offer a justification for a uniform (maybe not the one Egged had in mind, maybe not compelling), and you come back with nostalgia? Let me transplant your "logic" to a different situation:

    washing hands is important for a surgeon?

    i remember back in the day when the doctor's "uniform" was a bloody smock with enough germs from the previous surgery to fell a horse.
    when did doctors get so haughty?


    Sometimes change is a good thing. If they would change more things in this country, maybe there'd be fewer armchair zionists.

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  14. whether it is important or not, a company has a right to impose a uniform. It is common and it is an accepted business practice. It helps instill pride in the workplace, it helps with company discipline and with other factors.
    Whether a driver "needs" a uniform or not, like a policeman does, is irrelevant.

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  15. His kids are probably embarrassed for him to be seen wearing an Egged shirt by their friends. It's a sad state of things in Israel. My kids were devestated when I decided to wear sandals.

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  16. We have no idea what this guys thoughts were - no one asked him - but I can imagine a scenario where he asks his rav what to do - he has kids to support - and he says leave kollel - get a job - make sure that you can daven 3 times a day with a minyan and never change your dress (or your name or your language :) ) remember who you are - and thi si your "gader" So he interviews with egged and gets the job with the conditions he asks for. Now they dont let him - he moves onward to the next job....it is his right - and maybe he is also right....

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  17. of course he can quit. for any reason he wants. but he (or someone) is making a big deal out of it, as if egged is anti-haredi because he they insist he wears the corporate uniform...

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  18. And what's with demanding time off 3 times a day to daven with a minyan? This guy was 'pushing it' from the start.
    Every working male that i know davens shachrit before (or on the way to) work. They do not expect time off to daven. Maariv too can usually be davened after work hours, except possibly mid-winter or if he works extremely long shifts. He only needed to ask for time for mincha. This shows that the guy was a trouble-maker from the start.

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  19. egged bus drivers may need time off for shacharit, because (at least during the winter) they start when it's still dark.

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  20. Considering my own previous work experiences and dealing with "uniforms", I think he should be lucky.
    At one job, there was a policy on facial hair that required me to come to a compromise with a manager about my beard. I was allowed to keep it, as long as it was trimmed. And, of course, when that manager moved on, I had to have to same fight with the new one, but was able to work it out again.
    Sometimes it's how you work things out, more than what needs to be worked out.

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  21. YONI:

    "Let me get this straight. I offer a justification for a uniform (maybe not the one Egged had in mind, maybe not compelling), and you come back with nostalgia?"

    i'm not nostalgic. (to the contrary, i'd rather not see the egged driver's hairy chest.) my point was to question whether the advent of the egged uniform has had any positive impact that makes it worthwhile.

    then you bring a comparison to doctors? what's the connection?

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  22. Halacha requires a Jew to dress modestly. If he needed a waiver, I'm sure his rabbi would have granted one for work related clothing.

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  23. AFAIK, Egged drivers either wear the uniform royal blue shirt... or there is also a cream colored alternative.

    IMO, if a job goes against one's beliefs, practices or dogma, then don't work in that field.

    If you feel that abortion is against your principles, don't be a pharmacist. If you feel that birth control is blasphemy, don't be an OB/GYN.

    If you feel that the prescribed uniform isn't Tznius enough for you, don't work there.

    ReplyDelete

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