Justices: Political Dismissals Worse Than Political Appointments

Three former workers of the Israel Postal Company lost their bid to have the High Court of Justice restore them to work following their "political dismissals," because they were too close to retirement age. But they had the satisfaction of arousing the justices to high umbrage, and of getting increased compensation.

"Political dismissals may be even worse than political appointments," the justices snarled at the Israel Postal Company, in their ruling on the appeal by the former workers.

They had already won increased compensation in two lower court rulings, but hoped the ultimate appellate body would compel the government company to give them their jobs back.

"These are dismissals that arouse disgust and revulsion," the justices wrote. "The person behind the political dismissal should be personally sued," suggested the court, for the sake of creating deterrence. "They need to understand that their pocket could suffer as a result of corrupt political gambits."

Three years ago the Tel Aviv Labor Tribunal ruled that the three had been fired for "alien, political" reasons. It ruled them compensation ranging from NIS 214,000 to NIS 246,000.

The three appealed to the National Labor Tribunal, hoping it would order the company to rehire them. The Israel Postal Company also appealed, claiming that the compensation was excessive.

At the National Labor Tribunal, all sides lost. The court increased the former workers' compensation by another four monthly salaries. But it refused to return them to work.

The three former employees appealed onward, to the High Court of Justice.

Justices Miriam Naor, Elyakim Rubinstein and Salim Jubran noted that the venue does not normally interfere with rulings from the National Labor Tribunal. But in this case it decided to do so, given the situation created by the then-chief executive of the Israel Postal Company, Yossi Sheli.

"Political dismissals may be even worse than political appointments, because they deprive the person of his occupation," the justices explained in their ruling. "To make political appointments, positions need to be open," and to make the positions available to cronies, innocent workers are fired.

They would have restored the jobs to the individuals because of the crass way they'd been dismissed, the justices explained, but they had very few years left before retirement. They expanded the compensation by another six monthly salaries, added NIS 60,000 per person for anguish, and NIS 20,000 in court costs to be borne by the Israel Postal Company.