Reservist alleges military service led to his firing from Northbrook-based charity

  • Army Reserve Lt. Scott Klein (also known as Shalom Klein), seen here with his wife, Eli Klein, filed a lawsuit alleging his employer unlawfully terminated him on the basis of his military service.

    Army Reserve Lt. Scott Klein (also known as Shalom Klein), seen here with his wife, Eli Klein, filed a lawsuit alleging his employer unlawfully terminated him on the basis of his military service. Courtesy of Klein family

 
 
Updated 8/6/2020 9:19 PM

An Army reservist from Vernon Hills filed a lawsuit against his employer, Northbrook-based social services organization Keshet, charging he was fired because of his military service.

In the complaint, Scott "Shalom" Klein alleges he was unlawfully terminated from his position as Keshet's director of external affairs "due to anti-military animus and discrimination based on his military service and obligations as lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve." Keshet assists people with special needs.

 

Klein, head of an Arlington Heights reserve unit, began volunteering for Keshet when he was 8 years old, according to the complaint. In 2010, he joined the Junior Board Executive Committee, where he assisted with fundraising and event organization. Awarded the Keshet Community Service Award in 2013 for his "dedicated service to the children and adults of Keshet," Klein was appointed to the board of directors in 2015 and was elected chairman in 2017, according to the complaint.

In February 2019, Klein accepted a job as Keshet's director of external affairs overseeing fundraising, marketing and communications, public relations and government relations, among other duties, according to the complaint. It indicates Klein was to begin work in November 2019 but the start date was postponed until February 2020 after his active duty deployment was extended.

In his lawsuit, Klein claims Keshet officials and employees spent the less than two months he was employed interrogating him and his wife about his military service and when those obligations would require his absence from his job, thus "demonstrating their fixation on the issue and unwillingness to comply with the requirement under federal law that military personnel be given leave to perform their duties and not be subject to termination on that basis."

According to Klein, he received notice of his termination on April 20.

Klein claims he received no specific reason for his termination but "was told during the teleconference only vaguely that Keshet would be going in a different direction."

Responding via email to a request for comment, Keshet acting CEO Jennifer Phillips wrote that the organization has "always supported our troops and veterans as part of our commitment to inclusion."

"Mr. Klein was terminated for reasons that have nothing to do with his military service," Phillips said, adding that "it would be unfair to Mr. Klein for me to share any details regarding his employment or termination."

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