|Mizrachi Man Wins Precedent-Setting Discrimination Case|
|Written by Tamara Symonds|
In a precedent-setting decision, the Tel Aviv Labor Court has ordered Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to pay Michel Malka NIS 50,000 ($14,000) in compensation for discrimination in hiring. Malka was represented by NIF grantees Tmura: The Legal Center for the Prevention of Discrimination and New Discourse (The Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow).
In 2008, Malka, a Mizrachi Israeli, applied to the government-operated IAI's emergency medicine department for a job as a paramedic. When he phoned to inquire about his application, department head Gil-Ron Baron told him that the job had been filled.
But Malka's friend who worked at IAI told him that the company was still interviewing candidates. Moreover, when Malka's friend Michael Goldenshluger, an Ashkenazi, confronted Baron on the subject, Baron said, "What kind of thug have you brought me to work?" and he used the Hebrew slang "ars," a derogatory term (which translates more or less to "greaser") directed at Jews of Middle Eastern descent.
Malka reapplied under the name Meir Malkieli and was immediately invited for an interview. Despite Baron's insistence that the jobs had been filled and the successful candidates had then withdrawn, Judge Sigal Davidow Motola ruled in favor of Malka citing a violation of the Equal Employment Opportunities Law of 1988.
Eyal Sternberg, Malka’s attorney and co-Chair of Tmura said, "This is the first ruling of its kind in Israel, in which a labor court recognizes discrimination based on Mizrachi origin."
Malka said, "I was stunned to learn that a huge public company like the IAI would discriminate against people over their ethnic background. I truly felt like my honor had been trampled over. I'm happy that the outcome serves the greater good."