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Fatphobia: Workplace Discrimination Lawsuits in Israel

The Israeli National Labor Court recently ruled that the Israel Football Association acted with mala fides when it demoted an assistant referee in the national football league to a lower league because of his weight.


The employee worked for several years as an assistant referee in the national football league. At the end of the 2016 season, a decision was reached to demote him to a regional league. The employee alleged the demotion was tantamount to an adverse change in employment conditions for invalid reasons, i.e., his weight and appearance. The Regional Labor Court dismissed the employee’s claim and ruled that the decision to demote the employee to a lower league occurred on the basis of professional considerations relating to his mediocre professional performance, his lower rank than other referees, and negative assessments of his capabilities.


The National Labor Court reversed the Regional Labor Court’s ruling and found that the decision to demote the employee to the regional league occurred due to his weight and appearance, based on documents and evidence showing the employee was subject to repetitive comments on such during his period employment.

Discrimination, Weight, and Fatphobia

Although the National Labor Court did not specifically refer to this as a discrimination lawsuit, it did rule, for the first time, that weight is also included among the personal traits on the basis of which employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees pursuant to the Equal Employment Opportunities Law.


The court also ruled that, in the specific circumstances of the case, the Israel Football Association acted with mala fides toward the employee when it demoted him on the basis of his weight. According to this ruling, in instances in which a person’s weight per se is irrelevant to his job, a decision based on weight attests to irrelevant ulterior motives.


The National Labor Court ordered the employer to pay the employee compensation in the sum of ILS 40,000.


This ruling joins extensive rulings underscoring how important it is for employers to be diligent about ensuring that employee dismissals are for justifiable reasons and about conducting orderly and respectful dismissal proceedings.




Barnea Jaffa Lande’s Employment Department is at your service to answer any questions about employer compliance with obligations regarding dismissal proceedings and about employment terminations in general.


Adv. Jacki Silbermann is an associate in the Employment Department.

Tags: Fatphobia | Lookism | Workplace Discrimination