Saul Tzadka (04/03/2012)
According to recent media reports, the tragic suicide of an employee of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in London may be related to allegations she made of sexual harassment.
The employee complained by formal letter to the Deputy Director General of the Tourism Ministry, Oren Drori, who passed it on to the Director General and other senior officials. They did not act according to the regulations in place for cases of sexual harassment. The development of the events to their tragic end brought Assaf Rosenberg, head of Civil Service Commission disciplinary branch, to criticize Noaz Bar-Nir, the Director General of the Tourism Ministry. He complained that the employee’s complaint wasn’t dealt with for many months and therefore the truth cannot be ascertained in the matter.
Ramsden, who was the Public Relations Manager at the UK office, outlined in her letter a long sequence of harassments, starting with compliments that had sexual content, resulting in methodical harassment towards her after refusing the alleged advancements of Rafi Shalev. Only months after the complaint, following a second request from her, the ministry started investigating and even sent Gideon Snir, deputy director general for strategic administration and human resources, in autumn 2011, to investigate the UK office further. Snir was convinced that atmosphere in the office was negative and that the two could not work side-by-side, but he could not verify her complaint of sexual harassment.
Rafi Shalev. Photo by Ziva Levy
The Ministry of Tourism responded that in November 2010 an employee of the UK office contacted the Deputy Director General in Israel, complaining that Rafi Shalev is a hard demanding boss, but without mentioning sexual harassment. The Deputy Director General spoke to the employee and with Rafi Shalev to bring the matter to order. After this, “until august 2011, there was no complaint from the employee. On 01/08 the employee was told that due to reorganization of the office her employment would be terminated. On 25/08 another complaint was filed by the employee where for the first time sexual harassment by Mr Shalev was mentioned.”
According to the Ministry, the investigation started on the day the complaint was filed. After the holidays, the deputy director general for strategic administration and human resources arrived to the London office and questioned all the other employees. He then held a meeting with regards to the dismissal where he sat with the employee for two hours in order to get to the bottom of her complaint and hear her personal demands. “He made it clear to the employee that all her rights won’t be harmed and that the matter will be transferred to the Civil Service Commission. On his return to Israel the complaint was filed to the commission and all relevant materials were given. After an investigation and consultation with the commission we were told that, due to the tragic events, meaning the suicide of the employee on December 2011, there is no possibility to continue with the disciplinary actions against Mr Shalev. Mr Shalev will finish his role with no extension to his appointment at this stage. The Ministry of Tourism is examining the option of his early retirement and a tender for his replacement has already been issued. The ministry of tourism is very sorry for the death of the employee. With her death the ministry contacted her family to make sure her rights are kept and being given to her according to the law”.
Rafi Shalev was unavailable for response.
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