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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5778

P'ninat Mishpat: Not Hiring Someone After Causing Him to Quit Job part II

(based on ruling 76077 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: The plaintiff (=pl) worked in a senior position in a store and wanted to switch jobs to work at the defendant’s (=def) store in the same field. After general agreement on salary (10,500 shekels a month) and other conditions (including use of a company car), def asked pl to start work on Jan, 1, 2016. In order to not anger his present employer, from whom he hoped to receive severance pay, pl agreed to stay on a little longer. Def pressured pl to give him a set day, and pl met with his employer and they decided on Feb. 1; this gave def only a few days warning. Def was going abroad but started a process of having pl meet workers and take a graphology test, and he started working on a contract, but the process stalled, and def decided not to hire pl. It took pl a few months to find another job, in a different field with similar pay but worse conditions. He is suing for lost income and future earning power (he reduced his claim to 33,000 shekels on technical grounds). Def claims that he rejected pl because pl made a bad impression on several workers by improper actions, which confirmed the graphologist’s warning. He never formally hired pl, as they did not sign a contract, and so pl was silly to quit his previous job. In any case, he could have fired pl with minimal notice.

 

Ruling: Last time we determined that def had to pay for offering employment in a manner that caused pl to give up his job. Now we discuss the amount of payment.

One rule of paying for terminating employment prematurely is that the amount is reduced to reflect the fact that the employee enjoyed vacation during the time he would have been working. Usually, the amount reduced can be quite high. However, in this case, pl did not have full benefit from the time off for the following reasons: 1. During most of the time, he was not aware how long he would be in that state and could not plan his time; 2. He had to spend time trying to get def to allow him to start working, looking for a new job (later), and arranging unemployment benefits. 3. He was without a car, which work was supposed to provide. Thus, from the 10,500 shekel salary, we are reducing only 500 shekels.

We have to reduce the amount that pl received from unemployment insurance (close to 11,000 shekels). Although receiving unemployment insurance can reduce future eligibility, this is an unknown and somewhat unexpected possibility; we will factor it into the following compromise.

Def had agreed to start working a week into February, even though he stopped working for the previous employer at the end of January. Yet, we will credit him for compensation from February 1 because it is apparent that he agreed to delay receiving payment only on the assurance that he would be working thereafter. Since he was not hired, the damage started when he stopped working for the previous employer.

We are crediting pl with 3,500 shekel per month for the value of the use of a car and free gas. Pl also deserves money set aside for pension. The possible damage to pl’s long-term employment prospects is too indirect and uncertain to receive compensation for it.

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