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Substantial Damages to an Employee for Unlawful Termination and Defamation

The Tel Aviv Labor Court recently awarded ILS 250,000 in damages to a longtime employee due to unlawful termination and defamation.


The court accepted, for the most part, the lawsuit from a 65-year-old employee who had worked as a school’s head secretary for 21 years. The court awarded the employee ILS 200,000 for unlawful termination and ILS 50,000 for defamation.


In its ruling, the court stipulated what employers may and may not do when they suspect an employee has inauthentic sick notes.


The dispute involved an older employee who was on a long-term seven-month sick leave, according to sick notes made to her, and her employer, who suspected the sick notes did not reflect the employee’s medical condition. The employer had the employee followed by private investigators. Following these findings, the employer reached out to the employee’s health fund to obtain its response to the sick notes made to the employee.


Later, the employer summoned the employee to a hearing, during her illness period. The hearing was postponed several times, and it was eventually held without the employee or her representative present, and without giving notice that the hearing would be held in her absence. The minutes of the hearing were not forwarded to the employee or her representative, and she found out about her immediate termination from the termination letter she later received. Before the termination, the employer contacted the employee’s health fund to obtain its comments on the sick notes made to the employee, considering the private investigators’ findings.


The Labor Court’s Ruling


The Tel Aviv Labor Court found that the employee was dismissed in contravention of the Sick Pay Law and the regulations promulgated thereunder, while she was suffering from work disability according to sick notes, and with many unused sick days available to her. The court found that the employer could have ordered the employee’s examination by a doctor on the employer’s behalf, thus disproving or proving its concerns. However, in the absence of a medical opinion, the employer had no right to draw medical conclusions about the employee.


The court also noted that the employer did not provide any evidence justifying the employee’s dismissal, except for absenteeism due to her medical condition.


Regarding the employer’s appeal to the health fund, the Tel Aviv Labor Court found that this act might substantially harm the employee’s good name. Its reasoning was as follows: the appeal to the health fund was not supported by anything medically relevant, the employer’s presentation of the employee was biased and even false, and the employer’s conduct harmed the employee’s good name before the letter’s recipients and even the doctors who provided the employee’s sick notes.


The substantial amount of damages granted to the employee reflects the court’s displeasure with the employer’s conduct in this specific termination process.


Consequences of the Ruling


The court’s ruling further reflects the importance of proper termination procedures for employers.


This verdict is one more in a long string of rulings clarifying that orderly termination proceedings are crucial, including providing relevant, appropriate explanations for the termination, while protecting employees’ privacy and dignity.




Barnea Jaffa Lande’s Employment Department is at your disposal for any question regarding compliance with an employer’s duties in dismissal proceedings and termination proceedings in general.

Galia Shahar is an associate in the firm’s Employment Department.

Tags: Defamation | Unlawful termination