The only misdeed committed by Renin Jabar, a cashier at Home Center in Herzliya, was daring to speak to her work colleagues in Arabic. Recently, Jabar found herself fired from her job and out of work.
"This is racism. Why am I prohibited from speaking Arabic with other Arab workers during our free time?" said Jabar angrily.
Home Center admits to speaking with Jabar regarding her conversations in Arabic, but says this was not the grounds for her dismissal.
Jabar, 22 from Taibeh, was accepted to work as a cashier at the Home Center in Herzliya's Seven Stars Mall two years ago. The branch is open on Saturdays and employees many Arab employees that run the store on the weekends. Until recently, Jabar's managers were pleased with her performance, according to her. However, recently, one of her bosses noticed that Jabar spoke with her Arab colleagues in Arabic.
"She took me aside and demanded that I stop speaking in Arabic. I told her that I speak Arabic in my free time with Arab employees and not with customers and that this is permissible because Arabic is also an official language of Israel. She said none of that interested her and demanded that I stop. I told that's racist," said Jabar.
Jabar claims that since the incident, she had been asked to perform tasks far outside her job description, such as cleaning the bathrooms when the cleaning person went on vacation. She declined. As if this weren't enough, she claims that she was paid far less for her travel expenses to and from work than what she was entitled to.
Jabar recently received a letter of dismissal from her employers at Home Center. "This is blatant discrimination. They fired me on a racist pretense because I dared to speak with my Arab friends in Arabic. It is unconceivable that I was a good and dedicated worker, and they fire me for speaking Arabic," said Jabar.
Recently, Jabar contacted Attorney Tawfiq Tibi from Taibeh, who sent a letter to Home Center's management claiming that his client was fired on racist grounds and demanding that she be compensated.
"The incentive for dismissal is tainted with racism on the most offensive and crass level," wrote Tibi, while demanding that Jabar be compensated NIS 80,000 (about $20,750).
The Arabic-language website PANet decided to help Jabar in her legal battle.
Home Center reported in response that a conversation was indeed held between the managers and the employee regarding personal conversations she conducted in Arabic, but that her dismissal was not based on this.
"Home Center pays its employees' salaries according to the law and follows the labor laws. An initial clarification that was conducted revealed that there was an exchange of words between the store manager and the employee regarding personal conversations the employee conducted during work with her colleagues in Arabic. However, her dismissal did not address this matter whatsoever. Grounds for her dismissal were the employee's comportment, acting on her own accord, tardiness, and more," Home Center responded.
The chain also responded that Jabar was paid travel expenses above the required minimum and in accordance with the amount agreed upon in her employment agreement.
"Home Center employees a large number of employees from the Arab sector and views them as an organic part of the chain. In addition, Home Center employees an expert in multi-cultural management that helps employees and managers deal with differences between various cultures while maintaining respect for each and every sector," the chain reported.
Home Center stated that the chain will conduct an extensive clarification of Jabar's dismissal.