Gag order lifted on case filed against Sara Netanyahu
Details of court settlement between Sara Netanyahu and her housekeeper cleared for publication at Yedioth Ahronoth's request. Housekeepers demands NIS 41,000 for 'systematic delay of pay.' Claimed in court that Netanyahu asked plaintiff to sign waiver without knowing what she was signing
The Regional Labor Court in Jerusalem cleared for publication on Monday the details of the settlement in the claim issued against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, by her housekeeper. The authorization came at the request of Yedioth Ahronoth, which broke the affair, which ended in a settlement.
The claim, which was submitted in July for NIS 41,008 (about $10,890), included severance pay, salary remainders, delay of pay compensation, overtime compensation, recuperation pay, pay in lieu of leave, and sick pay. The plaintiff claimed that her pay was systematically delayed.
According to the claim, the woman was employed privately as a housekeeper in the Netanyahu household from May 2007. However, from April 2009, when Netanyahu became prime minister, her employment was transferred to a security and cleaning service company. The claim said company is the other defendant in the case.
After the case was filed, it was transferred to the president of the Regional Labor Court. The court reviewed the claims made by both sides and suggested a settlement by which Netanyahu and the security and cleaning company together pay the plaintiff NIS 20,000 (about $5,310).
The housekeeper's legal counsel, Attorney Shimon Diskin, said during a hearing that he has no problem withdrawing the case, but for a slightly higher price. The final sum agreed upon was NIS 23,000 (about $6,110), part of which will be paid by Sara Netanyahu, and part of which will be paid by the cleaning services company.
In June 2009, the plaintiff claimed that the company notified her of dismissal. She asked for a letter of dismissal, but was told that Sara Netanyahu was the one who decided to let her go, and therefore, all claims must be directed to her.
'Forced to sign waiver without knowing content'The state of claim listed a number of instances of withholding pay or failure to pay basic social rights. "The worst case occurred when Netanyahu refused to pay the plaintiff her salary for March 2009 until she signed some sort of waiver without giving her sufficient time to study it, understand its content, or seek consult regarding it."
"When then plaintiff ultimately signed the waiver, she did not receive a copy of it. Until the day of the claim submission, she does not know what is written in it. It should be noted that the plaintiff has difficulty reading Hebrew."
Ultimately, the plaintiff's lawyer said, the March salary was paid partially and late.
It was also claimed that the housekeeper worked many overtime hours, with a typical work day lasting between 11 and 12 hours, but never less than 10 hours. She claimed she was never compensated for the late hours she spent working. Because she never kept a record of her extra hours, she would only demand compensation for the first two overtime hours worked each day.
The reporter Ofer Petersburg first broke the story in Yedioth Ahronoth. At the newspaper's request, submitted by Attorney Tamir Glick from the Lieblich-Moser law offices, the court ruled Monday that making the case public is an important and central principle and does not fall under the legal restrictions applied to the case.
However, the details of the plaintiff herself remain confidential.
Netanyahu family's response
Shaya Segel, the Netanyahu family's spokesperson on the affair, said, "The three sides – the employee, the cleaning service, and Mrs. Netanyahu – reached an agreement regarding the case, which was rejected by the court. It will be emphasized that the settlement agreement that was reached by all the sides is in accordance with the compromise Mrs. Netanyahu leniently suggested because of the public sensitivity (of the case) a number of months ago much before the groundless and untruthful case was filed by the other employee Lillian Peretz."
"Unfortunately, we are encountering cases in which former employees are exploiting the public sensitivity of the Netanyahu family and the transition from being employees of the family to employees of a manpower agency for the Prime Minister's Office in order to file a groundless suit that has no basis or hold in reality
"It seems as though there are those who believe it is easy to verbally attack Mrs. Netanyahu on issues regarding housekeepers and caregivers because of the false reports on these issues that have existed for more than 10 years, including the claim issued against Mrs. Netanyahu by the housekeeper who has since left for South Africa. This housekeeper's claim was rejected by the court and the housekeeper of that time even recently expressed her remorse at things she said at that time.
"The employee in this case has also said explicitly that she filed her claim because of the lack of clarity, from her perspective, created by the transition between employers. It seems as though she herself regrets rushing to file a claim instead of turning verbally or in writing to settle the lack of clarity. It will be emphasized that the manpower agency fully admits that it is the one who fired the employee, not the Netanyahu family," the official statement said.
Tani Goldstein and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report