Orthodox Jewish Tenants Sue Owner for Religious Discrimination

A group of Orthodox Jewish tenants are suing the owners of a housing complex in Corona, Queens, alleging religious discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. In 2012, the 20-building complex embarked on a renovation project that added lobby doors that open only with electronic keys, as opposed to traditional metal keys.

Observant Jews are prohibited from "breaking or creating" an electric circuit on Shabbat and on a number of holy days. This means as a result of the renovation "hundreds of Jewish families" that live in the complex cannot use the doors. The suit alleges that tenants are forced to wait outside for someone to open the doors or call the elevators, and is calling for the installation of one door in every building that opens with a regular lock, as well as a "Shabbos elevator" in each building or a preprogrammed elevator that stops on every floor so that Orthodox tenants do not have to push buttons.