A third of Arabs experienced discrimination based on nationality in the workplace, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report

Referrals regarding discrimination on the basis of country of origin, namely immigrants from the former USSR and Ethiopia, increased threefold since 2017.

The National Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Attorney Mariam Kabaha, submitted this week to the Minister of Economy, Orna Barbivai, the annual report summarizing the commission’s activities for 2021. The report shows that of all appeals to the Commission, 12% were from Arabs, with 30% of them being regarding discrimination based on nationality. Meanwhile, the prominent topic of appeal for Jews was discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, standing at 17% of all appeals (compared to 12% among Arabs).

The report indicates that the Commission received 973 applications in 2021, a 30% increase from the year prior. 63% of the inquiries were from women. A third of them dealt with discrimination on the grounds of expanding the family or taking care of it (pregnancy 25%, fertility treatments 2%, and parenting 7%). In light of the introduction of an amendment to the Equal Pay Law for male and female workers, there is a clear increase in inquiries from women regarding discrimination on the basis of gender pay gaps. The number of appeals on the subject increased by 3.5 times compared to 2020, and 4.75 times compared to 2019.

Following the submission of the report, Commissioner Kabaha, said, “submitting the annual report to the Minister is an opportunity for us to present the important work of the Commission, to promote the recognition of rights according to the legislation of equality at work and their realization. Providing equal opportunity in employment to every worker and eradicating discrimination are the values ​​that should guide us all, in order to make the labor market more equal and inclusive. Together, in a joint effort, it will be possible to open the doors of the labor market to everyone, and allow optimal representation and integration for all the populations that make up Israeli society.”

Economy Minister Barbivai emphasized that “it is our duty as a society to work to reduce gender gaps and to maximize the rights of workers in the labor market. I am happy to see that the publication of salary data by employers has raised awareness of increasing equality in employment and reducing disparities. The findings of the report indicate that there is still a long way to go and the government has a responsibility to act in cooperation with the employers and employees for the realization of their rights.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission works to promote equality and diversity in employment in Israel in two main areas – in the legal field, in which the commission handles inquiries, provides legal advice, and participates in legal cases and in Knesset committees and ministerial committees, and in the information field, in which the commission cooperates with

the public sector and the private sector. In 2021, the Equality Commission expanded its work in these two areas. Over the past year, the Commission has expanded its activities in programs to implement equality in order to create a deeper and more extensive change among many sectors of the economy and to increase awareness of the importance of diversity. In 2021, the Commission operated eight programs to implement equality and diversity in employment and seven training courses for organizations in the economy.

Since the establishment of the Commission, the number of women’s applications has been higher than the number of men’s applications. In 2021, the percentage of referrals by women was 63%. In discrimination due to age, the gap between the percentage of women’s referrals (4%) and the percentage of men (14%) stands out.

42% of the inquiries received by the Commission were regarding discrimination based on working conditions. 27% of the inquiries were about discrimination due to layoffs or severance pay. 18% of the inquiries were about discrimination in hiring. The most prominent complaints by women to the Commission were regarding gender pay gaps and layoffs/severance pay (43% and 33%, respectively). Men mainly contacted the commission regarding discrimination in job promotion and hiring (41% and 21%, respectively).

Since 2017, there has been a downward trend in the percentage of referrals from employees from the private sector and an increasing trend in the percentage of referrals from employees from the public sector. In 2021, the upward trend in the number of referrals regarding discrimination on the basis of country of origin (immigrants from the former USSR and Ethiopia) continued, with the number increasing nearly threefold since 2017.

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