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May 3, 2013 3:08 pm

Women Who Said ‘Happy Hanukkah…We’re Burning the Jews’ Denied Unemployment Benefits

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Auschwitz gas chamber memorial. Two women were fired for mocking the killing of Jews in gas chambers and crematoriums. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

An Iowa judge has denied unemployment benefits for two women fired from a manufacturing plant after workers said they saw them last December with a toy Easy Bake oven filled gingerbread men, outside wish they wished their colleagues a happy Hanukkah and said, “We’re burning the Jews.”

Sisters Christina and Susan Ott were fired from the TriMark Corp. plant in New Hampton, Iowa. Carrying an oven around “with little people in it while saying, ‘Happy Hanukkah,’ is offensive, let alone if she said the hate speech along with it,” said Susan Ackerman, the administrative law judge who heard Christina Ott’s case, according to the Associated Press.

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  • jerry hersch

    TriMark probably wasn’t the best place for these women.
    TriMark a maker of handles,latches,couplings,locks…as well as some electonics has had an exemplary record of working with Israelis.Some of their manufactures have military applications and are used in miltary equipment.It has facilities in China and the UK.
    The community of New Hampton is in the heart of the German-American farm belt.There is no Jewish community. the county is fairly evenly divided between Roman Catholics and Mainline Protestants–it sits about an hour west of Postville Iowa- site of that kosher meat plant fiasco.

  • Steven Morell

    @NYIronwed – Are you familiar with the term “hate crime” – spreading hate is a crime and it IS against the law.

    31 states and the District of Columbia have statutes creating a civil cause of action, in addition to the criminal penalty, for similar acts.
    27 states and the District of Columbia have statutes requiring the state to collect hate crime statistics; 16 of these cover sexual orientation.
    3 states and the District of Columbia cover homelessness.

    I am pretty sure Susan Ackermann is doing a fine job as a judge applying the law and not her personal opinion.

  • Natalie Levine

    Tell the Ott sisters they are trash and ha ha…no unemployment for you, trash.

  • NYIronweed

    Why would a person be denied unemployment benefits for something that is not against the law? Disgusting, yes. Against the law, no. Nevertheless, this is a miscarriage of justice. As an American I find this judge’s abuse of the First Amendment more reprehensible than the plaintiffs offensive remarks.

    • aall55

      O.J Simpson did not go to jail for his crimes either….but he did end up in jail anyway.

    • Bathsheva Gladstone

      Most companies have a code of conduct or some such that upon being hired, one signs and is expected to comply with. They likely knew they would be fired for such egregious behavior. So they were, by their behavior, effectively quitting–but in such a way that they would be able to collect. Certainly if it were that easy to get something for nothing, we’d hear more of this.

    • Leslie

      I’m not sure about Iowa, but I’ve been told that in my state you aren’t eligible for unemployment if you were fired for just cause.

    • David M.

      You’re confused about the law and the constitution. This judge wasn’t punishing these women for their hate speech. He just affirmed that their hate speech was legitimate justification for getting fired. And it is. And if you’re fired for certain causes (as opposed to being laid off), or if you quit, you’re not entitled to unemployment benefits.

    • Marcos

      You are not entitled to,unemployment benefits if you are fired for cause. Now take you disgust elsewhere, little person.

    • Max Gorenberg

      Not quite. While these women have a right to free speech, they don’t have a right to unemployment pay-which is not paid out if the individuals in question were fired for legitimate reasons. The sisters were walking around their workplace spreading hate speech, a clear case of religious harassment, and thus legitimate grounds for dismissal.

    • Herb Fried

      it was tantamount to saying “I am going to do something so disruptive in the workplace you will have no choice but fire me”. Acting in a way to get fired is the same as quitting. A person who quits is not entitled to unemployment. They will not be prosecuted for the speech but they need to take personal responsibility for the natural results of their actions.

    • E Pluribus Beagle

      Because you don’t get benefits for simply being w/o a job, you get benefits for being fired w/o cause. If you march around your place of work screaming genocide, that is typically a cause for being terminated and therefore not entitled to benefits. Otherwise half of America would threaten to punch their boss in the face to get fired.

    • Danielle

      They not should only deny them employment, but keep them where they are meant to be, at a mental institution for such bizarre behavior.

    • Michael

      Unemployment benefits are not a constitutional right. To put it another way if you offend your boss (because of any reason other than race,color, creed, religion, or age) that boss could fire you (as happened here) and you would be intelligible for unemployment benefits.