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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Long Skirt Safety

This is interesting, for obvious reasons:
A bus driver is seeking redress from the MTA after getting fired for refusing to wear pants.

On her second week on the job, Tahita Jenkins, 33, explained to her new bosses that as a Pentecostalist, the standard issue NYC Transit bus-driver uniform is against her religion.

She even provided a note from the pastor of her Far Rockaway church, Holy Ghost Headquarters Prayer Band Mission of New Beginning Deliverance Church, requesting she be permitted to wear a skirt. But transit officials insisted that for safety reasons she had to wear either pants or culottes.

"I told them culottes are just wide pants," Jenkins said. "I said 'I'm not going to change my religious beliefs just to be a bus driver.' I've been driving a school bus for years and my skirt never got caught on anything." Transit officials said they had no choice but to fire her Tuesday.
I understand that if a bus driver in a skirt presents legitimate safety concerns, then the MTA has to protect the safety of its passengers - but is a skirt really a safety risk? I have seen Orthodox women ski in long skirts, hike in long skirts, and ride bicycles in long skirts. I can't imagine that an activity such as riding a bus in a skirt poses any sort of special safety concern. Anyone have any explanation as to why it might be?

Oh, well. I guess strike "MTA Bus Driver" of the list of employment possibilities for Charedi women.

47 Comments:

Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I wonder if the policy that all MTA bus drivers must wear pants is on the insistance of their insurance coverage. If so, it doesn't matter how safe the woman is. The policy is in place for a reason.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Tenzer said...

Maybe her skirt is as long as the name of her church. That might be really dangerous.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous jerry said...

"I have seen Orthodox women ski in long skirts, hike in long skirts, and ride bicycles in long skirts."

Are you claiming that such activities are safe?

12:19 PM  
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12:24 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Skiing and hiking in long skirts is NOT safe. I've done both and can tell you it's a stupid thing to do. Before some poor woman is paralyzed or killed from getting a ski or a foot caught in her skirt, I suggest our community either stop thinking of pants-wearing while doing sports as immodest, or else just admit that Orthodox Judaism is a religion in which women can't hike or ski. By trying to have it both ways, we're inviting disaster. Accidents may happen rarely, but I sure don't want to be the one who rolls down a cliff in the Red Canyon because wearing loose pants isn't modest. I know as well as anyone that girls just want to have fun . . . but the next time someone invites me to hike, I'm either wearing pants or staying home. Wearing a long skirt is NOT worth the risk.

12:43 PM  
Blogger scotty said...

Thank goodness the MTA addressed this potentially deadly situation. Now if they would just ban warm sweaters, the buses might become safe again.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

I once heard from a very respected Rabbi that the whole point of tzniyus (the long skirt thing) is so that you don't stand out and have people look at you.
He thought wearing a skirt to the gym (and certainly skiing) defeats that purpose, and thus is unequivocally not tzniyus.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Scraps said...

If she takes it to court, she might have a case. While safety concerns might be a valid reason to fire her, she might be able to force them to prove that wearing a skirt while driving a bus is unsafe. If they can't prove it to the satisfaction of the court, they won't have valid basis to fire her.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could see that it may be unsafe. How about wearing culotes and sewing them down halfway, so it looks like a skirt?

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there you go again knocking chareidi people.

7:08 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

I imagine that the dimensions of the skirt could play a role in safety. Too tight/fitted and you might not be able to drive the bus properly, or assist a handicapped person. Too long and you might get your skirt unintentionally caught on some of the gears on a bus (just this last Shabbat I got my sweater caught on the stove and one of the burners got turned on).

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was she not aware of the "dress code" prior to taking the job??

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" I guess strike "MTA Bus Driver" of the list of employment possibilities for Charedi women."

Do only Chareidi women follow the halachos of Beged Isha? I would think we have to strike it from the list of employment possibilities for frum women.

Then people wonder why Chareidim feel the MO dont follow halacha - and heres the answer - because MO people feel that Halacha is for Chareidim

11:34 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Then people wonder why Chareidim feel the MO dont follow halacha - and heres the answer - because MO people feel that Halacha is for Chareidim"

huh? you ok dude?

2:13 AM  
Anonymous Kmelion said...

If the IDF can manage women in skirts (of varying lengths), surely one can drive a bus...

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Then people wonder why Chareidim feel the MO dont follow halacha - and heres the answer - because MO people feel that Halacha is for Chareidim"

huh? you ok dude?



Yah, I'm OK. What didnt you understand about my post?

9:55 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Yah, I'm OK. What didnt you understand about my post?"

Just what you're trying to say.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anom 11:34
What are you trying to say?
Did you know that many US writers now use the word Charedei to mean TORAH OBSERVANT?

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

anonymous,

i think sw's point was that you are making many assumtions about many things, and you don't even realize it.

that, and you're an idiot.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

OM - Skiing et al in long skirts IS dangerous. I *believe* that my charedi cousins' schools in Israel have them wear loose pants on hikes. Many people we know wear loose pants for skiing, etc.

But driving a bus? Eh.

3:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the IDF can manage women in skirts (of varying lengths), surely one can drive a bus..."
they wear skirts for show ("maddei aleph" - dress uniform) but as far as i know all women in the IDF wear pants when doing actual army-related things.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous mdmom said...

i see dati girls in tzahal wearing uniform skirts in everyday khaki all the time.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all can learn alot from this woman!

8:06 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Too long and you might get your skirt unintentionally caught on some of the gears on a bus (just this last Shabbat I got my sweater caught on the stove and one of the burners got turned on).

A few weeks ago I brushed by our oven, and my gun turned on one of the burners. Maybe sweaters and guns should both be outlawed.

mdmom said...
i see dati girls in tzahal wearing uniform skirts in everyday khaki all the time.


Yes, but you won't soliders wearing skirts doing infantry related training/duties. It's not practical to lie on the ground and shoot (or run through a thorny field) wearing a skirt.

4:20 AM  
Blogger MDmom said...

that's true, jameel... but my point (not made clealy enough) is that unlike the MTA, tzahal is sensitive enough to provide skirts for average everyday activities, not just for dress uniforms -- and as i'm sure you know there's a difference between army basic training and a seated sedentary occupation like driving a bus. a woman can drive in a skirt, even stick shift(!) -- i do it all the time and i think i'm a safer driver than many other trouser-wearing people of both genders around here. but i also wear activity-appropriate clothing at other times -- skiing, gym, tiyul...

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Celtic warriors can do battle in a kilt, which is basically a miniskirt, it doesn't pose much of an encumbrance. But a longer skirt of the frum type may pose a bigger risk of getting caught on stuff. A school bus driver may be called upon to rescue or evacuate chiildren after an accident and must be dressed accordingly, like any other transportation worker.
BTW, riding a bike with a long skirt on is extremely dangerous.

1:23 PM  
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I,ve used New Look Voucher for shopping skirts and find out some great skirts there.

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10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I regularly hike, wind surf, cycle, kayak, rock climb, ski, abseil, play hockey, and work as a pediatric physical therapist all while wearing skirts that come to below my knees.

I have never once put myself or another person at risk due to my choice of attire, nor have I exposed myself 'indecently'. Granted, I wouldn't do these type of activities in a flowing ankle length skirt, not would I wear a figure-hugging pencil skirt. However, once I figured out what type of skirts work for this kind of active lifestyle, the only problem I've come across is people's attitude.

It all boils down to attitude. The attitude someone has to a woman in a skirt wishing to have an active lifestyle just shows how narrow minded that person is.

And really...bus driving in a skirt ?! It ain't exactly an extreme sport. I'd love to hear someone defend that course of action in a court.

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