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Unilever Fires Jewish Man for Taking Time Off During Rosh Hashanah

A Jewish man says he was fired from Unilever — the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s that was criticized for an ice cream sales ban in the West Bank — for taking days off from work during Rosh Hashanah, new court papers allege.

David Rosenbaum — a general manager at Unilever’s Englewood Cliffs, NJ headquarters — told boss Frank Alfano he planned to take days off for the Jewish high holy days in the fall of 2019, according to his Bergen County lawsuit from Thursday.

But, Alfano “told [Rosenbaum] that he could not take off for Rosh Hashanah and probably not for Yom Kippur as well,” the court papers allege.

A “distressed” Rosenbaum, 55, told Alfano that his religion required him to not work on those days. But, the boss wouldn’t budge, the filing claims.

Rosenbaum, of Washington Township, took the time off anyway and sent an email to the higher-ups on Sept. 30, 2019 — the first day of Rosh Hashanah — explaining what Alfano told him and how it was against the law. The Unilever lawyer merely replied saying she would speak with Human Resources, the suit claims.

The next day on Oct. 1, Rosenbaum was fired over the phone, “since he had not come into work on Rosh Hashanah,” the court documents allege.

In a prior incident, Alfano retaliated against Rosenbaum for an August 2019 complaint Rosenbaum made after Alfano allegedly touched him, propositioned him and asked Rosenbaum to lend him money,” the filing claims.

Rosenbaum — who also worked with Ben & Jerry’s marketing team to organize sales events — alleged his situation is “further evidence of Unilever’s anti-Semitism, which was demonstrated in July 2021, when Unilever’s subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, began an illegal boycott of Israel by refusing to sell its ice cream there,” the suit claims.

“This despite the fact that it continues to sell ice cream in some of the most repressive countries in the world,” the court papers allege.

In July, Ben & Jerry’s stopped selling ice cream in the West Bank saying in a statement: “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”

Since, a still-unemployed Rosenbaum has had a hard time finding a new job during the pandemic, his lawyer Cindy Salvo told The Post.

Salvo said it’s bad enough that Alfano didn’t let her client take the time off but it’s even worse that upper level management “didn’t try to do anything. They didn’t engage in any interactive process,” following Rosenbaum’s email.

“He simply can’t work,” Salvo said. “It’s against the religion.”

“It’s not like they have no other people to handle things,” the lawyer said. “They didn’t give an explanation and if they had — it wouldn’t have been adequate anyway.”

Through his lawyer, Rosenbaum said, he is “Shocked, surprised and deeply saddened that this could happen in this day and age.” Rosenbaum is suing for unspecified damages.

Unilever and Alfano did not immediately return requests for comment.