The government has admonished the Courts Administration for dismissing two pregnant judicial assistants and demanded that they be reinstated. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry stated that the Courts Administration had not acted in good faith, particularly since the judicial assistants could have been given a different job rather than fired outright.
"In both cases we decided not to approve the dismissal because the women could have been placed in alternative positions," said Sarit Yehudai, the ministry official responsible for enforcing the Employment of Women Law Women Labor Law.
Employers are required by law to receive approval from the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry before dismissing pregnant employees who have been working for the same employer for at least six consecutive months, but sources said the Courts Administration asked for ministry approval only after it delivered the pink slips several months ago.
By law, the ministry is advised not to allow employers to fire pregnant employees if the dismissal appears to be connected to the pregnancy.
In 2010 the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry approved 69 percent of the requests it received to dismiss pregnant employees, an increase of 10 percentage points over the proportion of requests approved in 2008.
The Courts Administration said it does follow the law. "The court system acts in accordance with the law and does not fire pregnant workers," it said in a statement. "When there is a reason for dismissal regardless of the workers' pregnancy, the issue is referred to the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry."
One of the Courts Administration employees was serving as a legal assistant to Acre Magistrate's CourtJudge Ronit Bash and the other as an aide to Jerusalem District Court Judge Eliata Ziskind.
"The case of Bash's assistant is being examined by the ministry, as her work contract has ended," the Courts Administration said. "In the case of Ziskind's assistant, the ministry rejected the worker's claim that she had been fired due to her pregnancy."
The Employment of Women Law, which dates back to 1954, states that the expiration of a fixed-term contract of employment is considered dismissal in this case.