Protecting Dignity in the Workforce

Dear Friends,


We spend the better part of our adult lives at home and at work, and sometimes at work more than at home. I have personally had the fortune of working in places that were pleasant and respectful – including as a public servant, in the private sector and in civil society. But when relationships at work are murky, when an employee is repeatedly treated in an insulting, humiliating and hurtful manner, life can become hellish. To raise awareness about this issue, we have asked to join as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the appeal in the case of Meni Naftali, the former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence.


ACRI’s submission to the National Labor Court questions the State’s appeal, and not details of the dispute between the Netanyahu family and Naftali. In its appeal, the State claims that there is no legal term for “workplace harassment” that justifies a compensation claim. Furthermore, since the claims are levelled against Mrs. Netanyahu, who is not a government employee, the State is not obligated to compensate Naftali.


This position adopted by the State requires our intervention due to genuine concern for the deterioration of labor rights in Israel.


In our comments as a friend of the court, Attorney Sigal Ronen-Katz and I, with the help of the expert Oded Ron, described the many faces of the phenomenon of workplace harassment. These include: humiliating and hurtful prohibitions, exaggerated criticism and constant expression of dissatisfaction, baseless accusations, the expropriation of authorities, public humiliation, invading one’s privacy, isolation, allocating tasks with impossible or irrational objectives or timetables, and more.


ACRI presented findings of studies that attest to the fact that workplace harassment severely hurts the victim, causes emotional suffering, and sometimes spawns physical symptoms as well as damage to the family unit. The figures we presented demonstrate that half of the employees in Israel are subject to workplace annoyances of this kind.


In contrast to the State’s claim, we argued that the right to compensation for workplace harassment is anchored in Israeli law – first by virtue of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and second as enshrined in the obligation of good faith and case history. We also argue that as an employer, the State has an amplified role in ensuring that workplaces are safe and free from harassment.


I hope that the court accepts our position and instructs the State, Naftali’s formal employer, to assume responsibility for the phenomenon of workplace harassment and fight to end it.



Sharon Abraham-Weiss
Executive Director
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, Labor Rights, Social and Economic Rights

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