Tel Aviv Municpality building lit up in rainbow colors symbolizing LGBT pride.
(photo credit: NIV ELIS)
In what's being hailed as a landmark decision, the National Labor Court determined on June 2 that the Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law forbids discrimination against male or female employees on the grounds of their gender identity.
The ruling, which was based on the rationale of the existing prohibition against discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, was given during the appeal agreement of Marina Meshel, a transgender woman who claimed she had been fired due to her gender identity, against the Center for Educational Technology. The parties came to a compromise, each keeping to their own claim.
The appeal was submitted against the majority decision of the Tel Aviv Labor Court, that determined that Marina 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 the conversations she had held with female schools students at the center, regarding sexuality and gender identity.
On his Facebook page, Prime Minister Netanyahu briefly addressed the issue on Wednesday, stating that "The struggle for every person to be recognized as equal before the law is a long struggle, and there is still a long way to go."
As part of the appeal, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) at the economy ministry submitted a position paper regarding discrimination due to gender identity, which surveyed what they called "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 emphasized the significant need for the courts to shape norms, particularly in the world of employment, where a legal ruling does not yet exist in this matter.
Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair, the EEOC's national commissioner and one of the advocates who submitted the position paper on behalf of the EEOC, said on Wednesday, "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."