New Bill Attempts to Crack Glass Ceiling for Israeli Women

Proposal gives more legal recourse to women who get paid less than their male colleagues.

A new draft law sponsored by MKs Dalia Itzik (Kadima) and Haim Katz (Likud) would extend from two years to seven years the statute of limitations for suing an employer who pays a female employee less than a male employee who does the same job.

On Thursday the High Court of Justice placed the burden of proof in the case of a gender-based pay inequality claim on the employer, rather than the employee. The court ruled that once a difference in pay between male and female employees was demonstrated, the employer had to prove that the reason for the discrepancy was not solely due to gender. Since passage of the 1996 Law for Equal Opportunities in the Workplace, it was the plaintiffs who've had to prove that they were being paid less strictly because they were female.

In addition to extending the statute of limitations, the proposed bill would also extend to seven years the period for which an employer could be required to compensate a victorious plaintiff retroactively, by paying the difference between her salary and those of her male counterparts.

"I am proud to table the first amendment to the Law for Equal Opportunities in the Workplace," Itzik said on Monday, adding that it was "an important step toward equality in the workplace in Israel." She said that extending the period for which compensation must be paid to seven years would bring the law in line with accepted practice for class-action lawsuits.

Katz, who is chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, said on Monday, "The significant wage gaps between men and women in Israel must be halted. The state must promote gender equality and put an end to discrimination against women in the workplace."

MK Dalia Itzik.
Shiran Granot