Elderly couple making aliya 370.
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram; courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh)
A prominent labor lawyer announced on Tuesday that she is gearing up to
challenge systematic age discrimination highlighted most extremely by a
40-year-old law that forces people to retire at the age of 67.
Shoshana Gavish filed a legal claim on Tuesday in the Haifa Labor Court asking
for the law to be revoked on the basis that it is in contraction with the more
recent Equal Opportunities Employment Law. The suit filed by Gavish is on behalf
of her husband, Prof. Moshe Gavish from the Faculty of Medicine at the
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, against the institution where
he has worked for more than 30 years.
Gavish said her goal was not to
damage the reputation of the Technion but rather to challenge the foundations of
this country and to bring about a serious change in attitudes toward ageism in
“We consider compulsory retirement to be discriminatory
and not constitutional,” Gavish told The Jerusalem Post
, adding that depending
on the response she receives from the Technion and the court, she is willing to
take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Gavish said that while
her husband will only reach compulsory retirement age in two years, “we are
seeing many friends and colleagues who are being forced to retire even though
they are still in the prime of their life.
“We really feel that people
who are approaching retirement age are slowly being edged out of their
activities and are made to feel irrelevant,” she said, adding, “I think it is
wholly unjustified and unjustifiable.”
Currently the law obliges
employers to fire their workers when they reach 67, she said. Continuing
employment after this age depends solely on the discretion of the
Dismissing as stereotypical the notion that elderly people
might not be physically or mentally able to continue on in their workplace and
the law could be considered a safeguard against incompetence, Gavish emphasized
that deciding to terminate a person’s employment “should be performance
“There is absolutely no justification to force people at the
age of 67 who are in full capacity to go home,” she said.
In the legal
document filed on Tuesday, Gavish points to other OECD countries and the US,
which eliminated such a law a long time ago. She also points out that the
original Israeli law, which was created 40 years ago, is less relevant today
with increased life expectancy and different types of jobs.
Gavish has yet to find out how the Technion will respond to the claim, his wife
sees this as just the start of an all-out battle to change the law.
legal claim does not, of course, exclude other avenues that should be employed
to make this change,” she said, alluding to the possibility of drawing in
parliamentarians to amend the existing legislation. “In this case, the
legal point of view is based on a personal grievance, but it should also become
a fully blown movement on other fronts too.”
Requests for a response from
the Technion were not immediately returned on Tuesday.