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City Drops Suit Against Some Jewish Shop Owners Over Dress Codes

A dress code sign posted at some Williamsburg stores. (credit: CBS 2)

A dress code sign posted at some Williamsburg stores. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The City of New York has dropped a lawsuit against seven Hasidic storeowners in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who posted signs in their windows asking customers to dress modestly.

The merchants had faced steep fines for banning shorts, sleeveless shirts and low-cut necklines.

The Human Rights Commission said the signs discriminated against women and non-Orthodox men.

The owners had maintained the dress code was religion-based. Hasidic Jews are known for their modest clothing, which they feel is their religious obligation.

Speaking to CBS 2 last year, shopkeeper Sam Gold said he could not believe he was being taken to court over a sign he had posted.

“I was astonished, amazed. I mean, why should they even look at those signs?” Gold asked CBS 2′s Tony Aiello last year.

That sign Gold referred to was a customer dress code calling for no shorts, no sleeveless shirts and no low-cut necklines.

Gold said last year that despite the sign, he would not turn away a customer who didn’t adhere to the dress code.

Under the settlement reached Tuesday, the businesses will avoid any fines. But any future signs must make clear they do not discriminate on the basis of gender or race.

Rabbi David Niederman, the president of the United Jewish Organizations Williamsburg, called the settlement a victory.

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