Synagogue didn’t dig deep for my wages, claims cemetery worker

A Jewish cemetery worker is accusing the United Synagogue of racial discrimination, claiming that non-Jewish workers were paid more than him for working at Christmas.

Peter Sollosi, 48, who was employed by the US as part of its chevrah kadisha (burial committee), said he felt “bullied” by the US which, he claims, made unlawful deductions from his wages.

He alleges that though he was paid double his daily salary for Christmas Day 2006, non-Jewish workers were paid five times their normal rate.

A Hackney Synagogue member, Mr Sollosi is taking the US to an employment tribunal in July, when he will also claim constructive dismissal.

According to Mr Sollosi, he was first employed by the US in January 2004 on a full-time 45-hour week contract, amended in 2005 to a minimum 30 hours. He was primarily based at Waltham Abbey cemetery in Essex. He resigned last September after taking six months’ sick leave for a knee injury sustained outside work. He claims he did not receive sick pay and was told he was no longer required.

He said: “They [the US] have refused to recognise that I was an employee, but I have the contract to prove it. When I was working there, they treated me as an employee but when it came to sick pay, they did not. I am shocked by the way I have been treated. I want them to acknowledge I was an employee, then I’ll walk away.”

His solicitor, Ashley Bean of Fowkes & Son, said: “If the United Synagogue loses, this could open the floodgates for other Jewish employees to make claims they were unfavourably treated.”

A US spokesperson said: “The matter is before an employment tribunal, so it would be inappropriate to comment.”

Last updated: 9:15am, May 29 2008