National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and his brother Shai sued a foreign worker from Sri Lanka, who had cared for their father for years and in the end were ordered to pay him about NIS 100,000.
According to a report by Haaretz on Sunday, the employee, Vijita Sonimal, sued the two on the grounds that he did not receive the funds due to him after his dismissal. In response to the claim, Ben-Gvir demanded that he be paid NIS 100,000 and accused him of "abandoning" his father, who died while Sonimal was on vacation in his home country.
The foreign worker claimed that the Ben-Gvir brothers threatened him and forced him to sign a letter of resignation, in which he would release them from all obligations for NIS 5,000. The court did not accept the claim that the signature was made under threats but ruled that the document has no validity.
Already in 2020, Ben-Gvir and his brother were ordered by the Jerusalem Labor Court to pay Sonimal approximately NIS 85,000. They transferred about half of the amount to him during the appeal process conducted by both parties. The appeal to the national court resulted in an increase in compensation to NIS 100,000.
Last month, a final judgment was issued in the agreement between Ben-Gvir and Sonimal, in which it was agreed that Ben-Gvir and his brother would transfer an additional NIS 40,000 to the foreign worker.
Ben-Gvir claims caretaker's vacation 'directly linked' to father's death
Ben-Gvir claimed that his father's death had a "direct link to Sonimal's negligence," writing, "We begged him dozens of times not to leave, not to abandon our father" - but no lawsuit was filed against him. In the response letter to the lawsuit, they wrote that Sonimal admitted that he resigned from the initial contract, and also that he asked "to see the 5,000 shekels given to him as a loan as a type of final settlement of claims."
Sonimal took care of Ben-Gvir's father between 2009 and 2017 and part of the time also took care of his mother. He stayed for about four years with Ben-Gvir's father in Ben-Gvir's house in Kiryat Arba.
According to Sonimal, the relationship between Sonimal and the Ben-Gvir family was close, until, according to him, after his return to Israel, he was forced by Ben-Gvir and his brother to sign a letter of resignation in English, and received 5,000 shekels in exchange for giving up his demands towards them.
Following this, Sonimal sued Ben-Gvir and his brother for NIS 130,000 and claimed that he did not receive severance pay and that he was not allocated funds to which he was entitled.
The labor court ruled that Sonimal's conduct "was not in good faith", but he "did not abandon his work" because Ben-Gvir approved him to fly on vacation - "even if in hindsight and due to a lack of choice."
It was further determined that Ben-Gvir and his brothers will be liable for compensation to Sonimal, not as his employers but as heirs to their father's debts. The ruling states that the court was not convinced that the employee signed the waiver document due to threats, but in any case it is not valid, and that "under the circumstances of the ceasure of employment, he should be considered fired."
"Itamar's parents were amazing, I took care of them with devotion, and especially his father who was a golden person. We were like a family," Sonimal told Haaretz. "I taught Ben-Gvir how to tie a tie the first time he went to court, but he was a bad person to me, I was afraid of him."
Sonimal added that "I lived at home with them, I looked after his children when they often went out to events. His daughter called me father."
Sonimal's lawyer, Guy Brand, responded: "There is nothing left of the letter of demand in which a nursing worker from Sri Lanka was required to compensate attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir in the amount of NIS 100,000 for the death of his father. The labor court ruled that he and his brother must pay the employee a similar amount for labor rights that were denied to him." The lawyer added that only after filing for enforcement did the people begin to pay their debt.
Ben-Gvir and his brother did not respond to the report.