Civil Service Suspends Dismissal of Pregnant Employee

The Civil Service Commission suspended late last week the dismissal of a pregnant employee by the director general of the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport, Dr. Yoav Rozen. The employee, Hadasa Greenberg-Ya'akov, was selected seven months ago as the ministry's spokeswoman in a tender. The commission is investigating the dismissal.

A pregnant state employee can be dismissed only if a special waiver is issued by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. No such permit was obtained in the case of Greenberg-Ya'akov.

Rozen's office said the dismissal was based on professional considerations only. "Any connection between the circumstances surrounding her hiring and/or the fact that she is pregnant, and the decision to bring her term of employment to an end, is illusory and fabricated, and lacks even the faintest hint of a connection to reality."

A month ago, Greenberg-Ya'akov notified her superiors that she was pregnant and that her absences from work in the past few months were due to tests connected to the pregnancy.

About two weeks later, Rozen gave her a dismissal notice.

Last week Rozen summoned Greenburg-Ya'akov for a hearing. The legal department of the Na'amat women's organization, noting that such summonses must be issued ahead of time and include all of the reasons for the dismissal, informed Rozen that Greenburg-Ya'akov would not attend and demanded that the hearing be conducted by an objective individual, as required by law.

Attorneys Michal Baron and Gali Etzion of Na'amat are demanding that the state return Greenberg-Ya'akov to her position or be sued in labor court. They claim she was fired because of her pregnancy and due to irrelevant considerations, and that she was not given an opportunity to adapt to the work situation at the ministry.

"Immediately after the announcement of her pregnancy, the director general of the ministry rushed to inform the employee of her dismissal," Baron and Etzion said, "before six months from the time of her hiring had passed, after which firing is prohibited according to the law of working women. Thus her dismissal is clearly connected to her pregnancy." They cited labor court rulings according to which even a worker with fewer than six months' seniority in a job cannot be fired for being pregnant.

According to a statement issued by Rozen's office: "The employee opened a 'front' and interfered boldly in the work of the minister's aides, in particular the minister's media adviser, which caused friction with the minister's office."

Officials also said that Greenberg-Ya'akov was unwilling to receive any instructions regarding her work from the director general, and that when asked to explain her actions, she said she was working on and with the level of the ministers, and that "directors general were in her eyes not the level with which she was willing to work."

Last March, after the tender process was completed, Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander complained to the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, of "an attempt by Science Minister Raleb Majadele to obstruct an employment tender."

In a letter to Mazuz, Hollander wrote that on March 25, the day before the tender results were determined, "the deputy director general of administration and human resources in the ministry appealed to the commission, in the name of Majadele, to postpone the whole process, to switch the ministry's representatives on the committee or to choose three suitable candidates ..."

The commission rejected Majadele's demand, and the following day a ministry official announced that she had received an order from the minister not to report to the committee.

As a result, Hollander ordered the tender to be conducted without representatives from the ministry.

Mazuz informed Majadele that interference by the political echelon in the tender process for filling professional positions in the ministry is absolutely prohibited.

A statement issued by Majadele's office said: "The minister acted honestly and in accordance with the law throughout. His only explicit interference was to prevent any interference in the tender process."