Ramat Hasharon Challenges Ruling That Forces Mayor to Pay Court Costs

Court rules city to pay wrongfully dismissed official compensation and court costs, half by municipality and half by the mayor himself.

The Ramat Hasharon municipality has petitioned the National Labor Court for a delay in implementing a ruling that ordered Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger to pay NIS 25,000 in court costs from his own pocket.

Tel Aviv District Court had ruled last month that Rochberger had illegally dismissed the head of the municipality's property department, Ayelet Shoshani Gino, and severely criticized the municipality. The ruling said the city had to pay Shoshani Gino 24 salaries as compensation, as well as NIS 50,000 in court costs - half of which was to be paid by the mayor himself.

In its petition the municipality asked for a stay only on Rochberger's portion of the court costs, not the city's portion, which will have to be paid from public funds. The municipality and its lawyers are thus representing Rochberger's interests, rather than requiring him to use his own lawyer.

The Ramat Hasharon municipality said that it was asking for the delay in collecting Rochberger's fine because Rochberger was not a party to the suit.

Rochberger declared in an affidavit attached to the petition that he shouldn't have to pay anything from personal funds because he was not a defendant in Shoshani Gino's suit, which was filed against the municipality.

Last month, Tel Aviv Labor Court ruled that Shoshani Gino, who had worked 17 years for the city, was dismissed for extraneous considerations - after she had sued for an evacuation order of a property held illegally by Rochberger's sister.

Though the judges said they were "repelled" by the Ramat Hasharon municipality's actions they did not order the city to reinstate Shoshani Gino, due to the bad relations that had developed between her and the staff.

The judges did, however, state: "In our opinion the mayor's conduct in this matter was extremely significant and thus there is no place for the court costs to fall totally on the public coffers, and we are obligating him to personally pay the sum of NIS 25,000."

The 24 salaries in compensation, which totals around NIS 500,000, will be paid with public funds.

In the request to delay the implementation, Rochberger argued that the lower court had made major mistakes in its ruling and that imposing expenses on someone personally exceeded the court's authority.

He also said that the costs imposed on him were unreasonably high and were not in keeping with the details of the ruling. He absolved himself of responsibility for the dismissal, claiming that Shoshani Gino had been summoned to a pre-dismissal hearing by a dismissals committee, of which, he said, he is not a member.

Moreover, he added, he would have a hard time paying the fine imposed. Rochberger's gross monthly salary is NIS 33,000.