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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu 5782

P'ninat Mishpat: Compensation for Questionable Firing

(based on ruling 81036 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: The defendant (=def), the agricultural company that operates within a moshav (=msv), hired the plaintiff (=pl), who grew up in but had left msv, to do an administrative position. After some time at the job, def fired pl, even though all agree he did his job very well, because “family politics” within msv made pl unwanted. Pl demands to be returned to his job and demands (in addition to the bonus def gave pl at the time of the firing): 50,000 NIS for legal fees fighting def and msv prior to coming to beit din; 10,500 NIS to make up for the raises he had been promised; 20,000 for mental distress. Def claims that with great regret, it was not feasible for them to go against the strong currents within msv that opposed pl’s employment.   


Ruling: The contract between def and pl states: “Either side may inform the other of his desire to stop the working relationship whenever he wants based on the Law of Warning about Firings (2001).” Halachically, agreements on monetary matters are binding (Shulchan Aruch, CM 225:5), and therefore def had the right to fire pl. Pl’s claim that the firing was done against the law was not substantiated. It was not based on improper discrimination, regarding which the law lists such things as race, orientation, gender, etc. Regarding the law that there must be a pre-firing hearing, such a meeting took place. Although the reason for the firing was not raised, as regulations require, this is irrelevant formalism considering that all the parties knew precisely what the reason for the firing was.

According to the contract, pl was hired as a level 3 director, which is a beginner position, and not the level that pl claims he was promised. There was some sort of understanding that pl was being groomed for more, but that does not create a promise, and even if he was promised, since he could be fired from his job, there was no security toward the future. Therefore, there is no additional payment on those grounds.

Pl complained understandably about possible impact on his professional and social reputation. We are pleased that the sides agreed to a letter that def sent to all of msv’s institutions clearing pl’s name of any complaints.

Pl does not have grounds for financial claims against def concerning his hiring a lawyer to fight his firing, which is a step he did not have to take. This is even more so considering we concluded that the firing was legal.

Despite all of the above, beit din agrees that for whatever reason, pl was treated unfairly and was harmed without fault by steps taken against him from within msv, of which def is a part. Before coming to beit din, def had offered pl 36,000 NIS compensation, which pl had rejected. Beit din appealed to def to increase that offer. Def agreed to pay 50,000 NIS, and that agreement was adopted as the ruling. 

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