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Israeli National Labor Court: the Law Forbids Discrimination against Transgender People in the Workplace

Landmark statement coincides with 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Week and its theme “Tel Aviv Loves All Genders”


MARINA MESHEL

The National Labor Court on Wednesday determined last week that the Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law forbids discrimination against male or female employees on the grounds of their gender identity, a jubilant statement from the ministry said.

The statement – issued by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) at the Ministry of Economy – noted that the ruling comes just in time for the 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Week and its theme ‘Tel Aviv Loves All Genders.’

The ruling was given during the appeal agreement of Marina Meshel, a transgender woman who claimed she had been fired due to her gender identity, in a lawsuit against the CET (Center for Educational Technology). The parties decided to compromise, with each party maitaining its claim.

The appeal was submitted against the decision of the Tel Aviv Labor Court, which determined that Meshel had not been fired from her work because she was transgender, but because she had “crossed the boundaries” of what she had been permitted to say during conversations she had held with female school students at the Center, regarding sexuality and gender identity.

As part of the appeal, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) at the Ministry of Economy submitted, through Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair, the EEOC’s National Commissioner,  and Shiri Lev-Ran, a position paper that surveyed what it said was “the sad state of the LGBT community in general, and of its transgender members in particular, in being accepted for employment and become properly integrated in the workplace.”

The EEOC noted that particularly in the world of employment, where a legal ruling does not yet exist in this matter, there is a significant need for the courts to shape the correct norms.

Members of the LGBT community are entitled to the protection of the Law against discrimination in employment. The LGBT community in Israel has grown and developed, and has been occupying a more important place in public discourse in recent years.

The statement said that there have been few studies in Israel regarding various aspects of the situation of this population, and they are mainly focused on the development of gender identity and sexual orientation, the process of “coming out of the closet” and how their close environment copes with this process, and parenthood and building a family among same-sex couples.

Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair, the EEOC’s National Commissioner: “This week marks Tel Aviv Pride Week, reflecting how public discussion has expanded on the issue. At the same time, the question of the place of the LGBT community in Israel’s labor market has not yet been addressed in the rulings by the labor courts. Therefore, the statement by the National Labor Court is an important harbinger for advancing this discourse regarding employment relations in Israel.”

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