High Court revokes man's gov't post in affirmative action ruling

The cabinet approved Yair Geler's appointment to head National Authority for Combatting Alcoholism and Drugs even though a committee had ranked Yael Aran ahead of him by one point.

By DAN IZENBERG
April 20, 2009 22:05
1 minute read.
high court of justice 298.88

high court 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

The High Court of Justice on Sunday unanimously overturned the government's appointment of Yair Geler as director-general of the National Authority for Combatting Alcoholism and Drugs because a woman had been ranked ahead of him. The cabinet approved Geler's appointment even though a search committee, which examined 44 candidates for the job, had ranked Yael Aran ahead of him by one point. Despite the search committee's conclusion, the director-general of the Prime Minister's Office under then-prime minister Ehud Olmert, Ra'anan Dinur, decided to recommend to Olmert, who was in charge of the Authority, to pick Geler. The cabinet approved Olmert's candidate. Aran petitioned the High Court against the appointment, charging that the government had violated the 1952 Equality of Rights for Women Law which states that if a male and female candidate have similar qualifications, the woman should be chosen. According to the law, "proper expression will be given, in accordance with the circumstances, to the representation of women in types of positions and various ranks among employees, management, the board of directors and the governing council, on condition that to carry out this provision, it is required that giving preference to the woman will be done when the two [leading] candidates of different genders have similar qualifications." Justice Edmond Levy said that in deciding whether a woman deserved preference in an appointment, the decision-making body must determine whether women have appropriate representation in the organization in question, and also whether women are proportionately represented throughout the system at the rank she seeks. While women were fairly represented in the governing council and staff of the National Authority for Combatting Alcoholism and Drugs, there are only two women serving as directors-general in 102 statutory bodies and only four serving as directors in 66 government bodies, he said.


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