It could be the beginning of a slippery slope. In the past few days Kav LaOved received dozens of calls by Arab workers who were fired from their job due to discriminatory behavior by their employers. A significant number of workers who expressed their political opinion on Facebook suffered immediate and arbitrary dismissals. In response, human rights organizations are demanding that the government take immediate action to enforce the law against discrimination in the workplace.
There are a growing number of reports regarding the immediate and arbitrary dismissals of Arab workers who expressed their opinion about the current combat situation, especially on social media. Kav LaOved has been receiving requests for help from workers who were dismissed after publishing their opinion on Facebook. Recently exposed organized groups are pressuring employers to fire Arab workers because they dared express their opinion on Facebook.
Dismissing a worker due to his or her political opinion is prohibited in Israel. We know through the workers who have turned to us that the opinions expressed are not within the consensus and are therefore viewed by a growing number of employers as a legitimate reason for dismissal. Particularly disturbing is the behavior of employers, including large and well know companies who have begun to stymie their workers from expressing their opinion regarding the political situation through the social media by threatening disciplinary measures. It is important to be aware that this type of behavior is a slippery slope that can ultimately affect all workers.
Today, July 28, 2014, four human rights and civil society organizations (Kav LaOved, The Association for Civil Rights, Women Lawyers for Social Justice, Sikkuy-The Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality in Israel) submitted a request to the Ministry of Economy and the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities, that they immediately take all necessary action to end the wave of dismissals of Arab workers and to protect them from reprisals by the employers just because they expressed their political opinion.
In the words of Gadeer Nicola of Kav LaOved, “We have been working for many years to include Arab workers in the Israeli labor market. We have witnessed the severe discrimination with which these workers must deal. Firing workers for expressing an opinion or for being members of a minority group intensifies the discrimination that already exists. One must remember that these workers, as all people in Israel, have the right to freedom of expression and to have equal opportunity in the labor market. Eradication of discrimination cannot be done through silence. The central goal of the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities is to include Arab citizens in the workplace. We insist that they, and the Ministry of Economy, take immediate action against public pressure to fire Arab workers due to the group to which they belong or the expression of their opinion.”
To read the letter submitted to the Ministry of Economy and the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities, click here.
Translation: Sharon Kerpel