Press Release

Fired for observing Passover, Jewish woman goes to court Becket, American Jewish Committee defend employees’ rights to observe religious holidays

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Susan Abeles, an Orthodox Jewish woman, will go to court tomorrow to defend her right and the right of all employees to observe their respective religious holidays. After working for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) for 26 years, Susan Abeles lost her job for observing Passover, an important religious holiday in Judaism. Ms. Abeles had observed Passover every year without incident until 2013, when she was punished and forced to retire despite following leave protocol. She then sued the MWAA, which now claims to be exempt from both state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Becket and the American Jewish Committee, a leading Jewish advocacy group, filed a friend-of-the-court brief earlier this year defending Ms. Abeles and her right to practice her faith, as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). After a Virginia federal district court ruled against Ms. Abeles, she appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear her case tomorrow, Thursday, December 8th.

Oral Argument for Abeles v. MWAA

Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Eastern

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
1100 East Main Street, Suite 501
Richmond, VA 23219

Becket attorneys will be available for interviews immediately following the hearing. Susan Abeles is represented by Nathan Lewin of Lewin & Lewin.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda  Skea at  or 202-349-7224.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditionsand has a 100% win-rate before the United StatesSupreme Court.For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians  (read more).