Jews Report Less Workplace Discrimination

Religious discrimination in the workplace may be less of a problem for Jews than for other religious minorities, according to a new nationwide study.

Of the nearly 675 people surveyed — most of whom are affiliated with one of five religious minorities in the United States — 66 percent said that some form of specific discriminatory behavior based on religion had occurred at their workplace, and one in five had either experienced religious discrimination themselves or knew of a coworker who did. The study was conducted by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York. But Jewish respondents reported the lowest degree of discrimination — even lower than Christians — and the highest level of comfort on the job.

It is not clear from the study how many of those Jews surveyed are observant Jews.

Part of the reason for these findings is that most Jews in America are likely to have been living here for at least two generations, Georgette Bennett, the president of the 7-year-old Tanenbaum Center, explained at a recent news conference .

“Jews have been here longer than a great percentage of the sample,” of which 42 percent were foreign born, “and they tend to be assimilated into the larger culture,” Bennett said.

In the study, American-born workers were more comfortable on the job than foreign-born workers.

Indeed, the study grew out of an awareness that as more immigrants come to the United States from Asia and the Pacific Islands, India, Pakistan and Africa, the growing presence of minority religions is changing the face of the contemporary workplace.

The exploratory study conducted telephone interviews in the spring of 1999 among a sample designed to overrepresent five religious minorities in the United States: Judaism (102 people), Islam (102), Hinduism (107), Buddhism (103) and Shintoism (12).

Those questioned also included 188 Christians and 28 people who did not identify with any of the above-mentioned religions.