NEW YORK — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Wednesday filed a suit in Manhattan federal court charging retailer French Connection Group Inc. with religious discrimination.

The suit claims the company rescinded an offer of employment after learning the applicant would need to leave work early Fridays in the winter to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

According to the suit, the company on Feb. 16, 2001, offered Amanda Nathan, an Orthodox Jewish woman, a position as a trim buyer, at which point she informed the company that she would need to leave early Fridays, but said she would make up any lost time during the week. On Feb. 19, the suit claims, the company rescinded its offer.

On July 10 of that year she filed a complaint with the EEOC.

After the job offer was rescinded, Nathan, who was working as a trim buyer at another company when she applied for the French Connection job, quit her former position and went back to school for interior design, said Monique Roberts, the EEOC trial attorney trying the case.

The suit seeks to make the company compensate Nathan for her lost wages as a result of the rescinded offer, to pay her punitive damages and to put in place policies to ensure equal employment opportunity.

"We hope to achieve some level of justice for her and for other observant Jews that need to observe the Sabbath, and to show that companies can’t discriminate on the basis of religion," Roberts said.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, French Connection said it had not yet been served with court papers and added, "French Connection is an equal opportunity employer and takes great pride in the diversity of its workforce."

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