Is it Legal to Fire Terrorist-Supporting Staff?

Legal expert defends cellphone company which fired an employee for posting online tribute to a terrorist shot after stabbing Jewish teen.

Hillel Fendel ,

Police at the site of Jerusalem stabbing attack
Police at the site of Jerusalem stabbing attack
Flash 90

Is showing support for a terrorist grounds for being fired – as happened just this week? Prominent labor lawyer Yael Dolev says it most certainly is, though not in every case.

It was reported yesterday that an Arab employee of the Pelephone cellular phone company published on Facebook the photo of a terrorist who just hours earlier had stabbed and wounded a Jewish teenager in Jerusalem.

The photo featured the caption, "My beloved" and "shahid" (martyr).

The Pelephone company received many complaints at the publication, and asked the employee to remove the photo. She refused, and was subsequently fired.

Attorney Dolev, of the law firm Gross, Kleinhandler, Hodak, HaLevy and Greenberg, notes that in principle, the requirements of freedom of speech and the ban on firing someone merely for his opinions often clash with the employer's rights to his property. However, she says, an employer may generally fire a worker whose support of terrorism – or any other cause – is liable to lead to losses for the owner.

For instance, during Operation Protective Edge last year, the Municipality of Lod laid off an educational psychologist who expressed happiness at a battle in which 13 IDF soldiers were killed; she even said she hoped that others would die as well. The Labor Court approved the firing, inter alia because of the fact that she was a public service employee.

On the other hand, the Labor Court did not allow a female worker to be fired merely for "sharing" an article equating between the Holocaust and what she called the "genocide" in Gaza.

In the case at hand, Atty. Dolev opines that there is a significant risk that the opinions of the worker, who is clearly identified with Pelephone, would cause the company significant losses in its activities in the public sphere, and that therefore the firing appears to be entirely justified.