A former employee at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem filed a lawsuit against the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, on Friday for alleged abuse.
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According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the woman, who worked as a cleaner at the Jerusalem residence, is suing for 225,000 shekels ($63,600). The lawsuit states that Yair Netanyahu, the couple's son, took part in the abuse and even incited his mother against the cleaners, in so-called "line-ups."
The former employee, a 24-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman, worked for a month at the residence, up until several weeks ago. According to the lawsuit, Sara Netanyahu preferred employing ultra-Orthodox women because they are supposedly more introverted and less likely to leak information.
The woman claims she was employed "as a slave" and that Sara Netanyahu humiliated her and came close to beating her. The lawsuit also says that Yair Netanyahu would inspect how clean the house was, in one instance climbing to a spot unreachable without a ladder, touching his finger on the surface and saying: "Mom, come look, they didn't clean here."
The lawsuit describes Sara Netanyahu as suffering from "frequent fits of rage" and as lashing out at the worker, allegedly calling her a "pile of nothing." The woman said that first signs of the hostile and degrading work environment were present from her job interview, when Sara Netanyahu reportedly told her that "she doesn't like workers that walk, but rather those that run and that was the reason she doesn’t hire 'fat workers.'"
When the woman began working at the residence, the lawsuit states, Sara Netanyahu forbade her and other workers to use the bathroom on the second floor, letting her only use the security guards' bathroom. In addition, the lawsuit says, Sara Netanyahu did not allow the woman to eat and drink, take breaks or lean on furniture while working. She adds that the cleaning guidelines imposed by the Netanyahus were "extreme."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the allegations on his Facebook page on Friday, blaming Yedioth Ahronoth and the lawyer for the former caretaker Meni Naftali. "There is no limit to the persecution, no end to the lies and no end to the character assassination," he said. According to Netanyahu, the allegations in the lawsuits are "imaginary" and "the time the worker spent alongside Mrs. Netanyahu is shorter than the length of her lawsuit."
The lawsuit was also filed against the Prime Minister's Office, the cleaning company through which the woman was employed, Netanyahu's adviser for ultra-Orthodox affairs, Rivka Faluch, the chief caretaker of the residence and Netanyahu's Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz.