Pregnant woman (illustrative) .
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A sharp rise in complaints regarding employment discrimination due to ethnic origin, race, military reserve duty, and gender has been recorded by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
Over the course of the first six months of 2015, 371 petitions were received by the EEOC at the Economy Ministry. The most acute change was a 137 percent rise in complaints due to ethnic origin, a rate that rose from 8 complaints in the first six months of 2014 to 19 complaints in the first six months of 2015.
Complaints due to race rose from 14 to 31, a 121% rise, and complaints connected with military reserve duty rose from 16 to 32 complaints, a 100% rise.
As part of the EEOC strategic program for 2014-2016, an emphasis has been put on increased enforcement against discrimination due to race, and recently the EEOC has been operating a forum with the aim of increasing Arab awareness of rights in the labor market. The Economy Ministry explained that the rise in the number of complaints due to race is commensurate with these activities.
In contrast, during the first six months of 2015, there were a 70% drop in petitions due to religion (from 33 to 10), a 26% due to age (from 53 to 39), and a 27% due to pregnancy (from 144 to 105), compared to the same time-frame in 2014.
The ministry said this might reflect the change in issues featured on the political and media agenda.
“Discrimination due to race, ethnic origin or religion is prohibited by law, and we are turning to employers to encourage tolerance and leadership rather than exclusion and discrimination. The number of complaints due to race shows we still have a long road ahead to fulfill the vision of implementing equality,” said attorney Tziona Koenig-Yair, the EEOC commissioner.
While complaints due to pregnancy decreased from 144 to 105 and those regarding parenthood declined from 22 to 21, Koenig-Yair pointed out that such a drop does not necessarily mean a falling off in this type of discrimination, such as bias against hiring someone who has young children or is planning a family. Furthermore, these complaints still make up the majority of petitions registered by EEOC.
“I turn to the employers to look at the amazing potential we have in employing women, and not to look at them as ‘walking wombs.’ The solution will not emanate solely from the labor market, but from the home sphere. Dividing parental responsibility at home will lead to women being able to take their appropriate place in the Israeli labor market and we will all gain,” said Koenig-Yair.
Of the complaints recorded in the first half of 2015, 63% were made by women.
Since its establishment in September 2008, the EEOC has received a total of 4,987 complaints. The first six months of 2015 showed an overall drop of 9% in filings in comparison to the same timeframe last year.