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Israel Equal Pay Laws: Court Tightens Enforcement Of Equal Pay For Men And Women

05/18/12 08:45 AM ET AP

JERUSALEM -- Israeli feminists on Friday welcomed a Supreme Court ruling they say will help enforce equal pay laws for men and women.

The ruling, issued Thursday, requires employers paying different wages to men and women to prove it is not due to gender discrimination. The decision stemmed from a case that began with a woman who was earning 70 percent of the wage of a male colleague at a hardware store chain. Her employer claimed this was because she requested a lower salary when applying.

The court ruled this was not sufficient reason for the pay gap.

Dana Naor-Mande'el, legal adviser to the Israeli Women's Lobby that brought the suit, said the ruling shifts the burden of proof for gender discrimination to the employer.

"An employer cannot hide behind the fact that a woman asked for less money," she said. "It gives women more leverage."

Figures from 2009 show Israeli women earn about two-thirds as much as Israeli men.

Gender discrimination has become a major point of contention in Israel in recent years.

In Jerusalem, advertisements bearing photographs of women have become rare for fear of vandalism by ultra-Orthodox Jews. Some religious neighborhoods have gender-segregated sidewalks, buses and health clinics. And the military has considered reassigning female combat soldiers because religious men don't want to serve with them.

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Filed by Eline Gordts  |