(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court ruled in favor of Omri Kis last week in his lawsuit against Café Al Hayam Ltd., in which he claimed he had not been given work as a waiter because he is of Arab origin.
According to Kis, Café Al Hayam Ltd., part of the Café Café chain, accepted him for training but towards the end of the shift, the shift manager asked Kis what his race was. Kis answered that he was an Arab and in response, the shift manager replied that the restaurant is kosher and therefore he cannot employ Kis as a waiter, but suggested he work in a nearby restaurant.
Judge Keren Cohen, who presided over the case, awarded NIS 30,000 in compensation to Kis for the breaking of the Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law and an additional NIS 5,000 in legal costs.
In her verdict, Cohen said that even though Kis is a serial plaintiff, who submits many lawsuits for being discriminated against on account of his being Arab, this does not hinder the suit or create non-existing discrimination.
Kis has previously filed over a dozen claims in civil court regarding discrimination on the basis of the Law of Prohibition of Discrimination in Products and Services and in Entry to Entertainment Establishments and Public Facilities, 2000, winning some of those cases as well as the current labor law dispute.
While judges have referred to him as a "serial plaintiff" in their judgements, they have not taken this to mean that his claims are false. On the contrary, one of the judges stated in their judgement that Kis is setting the standard in the struggle against discrimination.
Tel Aviv Regional Commissioner to the Equal Opportunities Commissions, Adv. Shiri Lev-Ran Lavi, joined the process as a friend of the court and her position was included as part of the verdict. Lev-Ran Lavi presented the severity and extent of racial discrimination, particularly at the stage of acceptance for employment.
She also stated that it is an unacceptable and illegal social phenomenon that both society and the law enforcement authorities must act to eradicate.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity National Commissioner, Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair, "This is an extremely important verdict, both in theory and practice. Even though the severe phenomenon of discrimination against the Arab population exists in the labor market, it does not feature sufficiently in the verdicts of the labor courts. This shows the great importance of a verdict carrying a clear message to employees who are discriminated against – that the doors of the labor courts are open to every one of them."