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Israel: Employer Surveillance of Employees

(Mar. 4, 2013) The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court recently rejected a lawsuit brought by a graphic designer against her former employer for compensation for having been laid off, sick leave, emotional distress, and violation of her right to privacy.

Due to financial difficulties, the former employer had offered to end the plaintiff’s employment, a layoff that would have resulted in the plaintiff receiving unemployment benefits. Instead, the plaintiff continued her employment and at a later date stopped working and started sending medical notices attesting to her having broken a rib. Suspecting that the notices were untrue, the company hired a detective agency to conduct surveillance of the plaintiff. After being confronted with the detective agency’s reports of surveillance, the plaintiff resigned. (Lilakh Daniel, Labor Court: An Employer Is Allowed to Spy on an Employee If This Does Not Harm the Employee’s Privacy, Legal News [in Hebrew], TAKDIN LEGAL DATABASE (Feb. 18, 2013) [online subscription database, discussing Regional Labor File 9331-09 in the matter of Revital Salam v. Design, Graphics and Communications].)

The Court held that in order to receive compensation for being laid off, the plaintiff had to demonstrate that the working conditions had worsened or that in the circumstances it was not possible to continue employment. Additionally, the plaintiff had to prove that she resigned because of such conditions and that she had provided her employer reasonable notice to correct the situation. Under some circumstances, Judge Dagit Visman held, when an employee realizes that he or she is being followed outside of the employment site, it is possible to recognize the surveillance as a harm that justifies resignation without giving due notice to the employer. In the circumstances of this case, however, the link between the surveillance and the resignation was artificial, and the surveillance did not constitute the reason for the resignation. In addition, the Judge opined, the detectives followed the plaintiff in the public domain in a way that did not violate her privacy under the Privacy Protection Law. (Id.; Privacy Protection Law, 5741-1981, 35 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL 136 (5741-1980/81), as amended.)