This story evidently got going in February, but I just recently learned of it. New York City, not having anything better to do, is suing various Hasidic stores for posting the following dress code:
No low-cut neckline
Allowed in this store
Reports state that the ground for the suit is that the stores are allegedly discriminating on the grounds of religion! Yes, you got that right. The claim is that they are trying to impose their religious norms on customers, hence, they are discriminating on religious grounds against customers who don't share their religion.
Now, that, to me, is the story. Stupid lawsuit by city is bad enough, but that argument is extremely troubling. As others have pointed out, plenty of stores have for a long time required shirt and shoes to receive service. Moreover, fancy restaurants have highly specific dress codes. Nobody tells any of those places that they are discriminating on the grounds of religion. There are also still on the books public decency statutes that would, for example, prohibit public nudity. So evidently what is motivating this lawsuit is that the alleged motivation for this dress code is religious, which makes this dress code "religious discrimination."
That's a very bad precedent. If you tell your customers to dress in a certain way to be stylish or classy-looking or so as not to drag down the worldly reputation of your restaurant, Bloomberg's minions consider that, shall we say, kosher. But if we happen to know that you are religious and that your motive for your basic and rather minimal modesty-related dress code is religious, then you get sued. What this means is that if you try to apply any code of decent behavior or modesty in your business establishment, even a prima facie reasonable one, you will be allowed to do so only to the extent that your motive for that reasonable standard is not religious. The minute your motive is thought to be religious, then you can't ask anything of your customers.
The claim that this is an enforcement of the store-owner's religious dress norms is false in any event. Actual Hasidic women do a lot more than just not wearing sleeveless dresses, shorts, and low necklines in public! The dress code here falls far short of the Hasidic businessmen's own religious standards.
So what happens next? If public nudity becomes more common and a known-to-be-Christian businessman puts, "No nude customers will be served" on the door, is his motive presumptively religious, and can he therefore be sued for religious discrimination against all those non-Christians who want to shop in the buff? This is now not a merely satiric question.