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I saw, in an article on "Halachic Considerations of Firing Employees" by Rav Dovid Grossman of The Bais HaVaad Halacha Center:

Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt"l writes a tremendous chiddush in regards to firing employees who are not classified as an Ani. He writes, that any time a worker is hired without term, it is as if they were hired forever. Therefore, unless you cannot afford to keep them as employees, they are not qualified for the job, or another new cause exists making it impossible to keep the worker, the employer simply can never fire them. Consequently, even if the boss would like to take his relative into the business, or a more qualified replacement is found (assuming the current employee is also considered qualified, albeit not as qualified), the employee cannot be fired. Therefore, if the boss needs the work done, and this employee can effectively perform this work, he must be kept on the payroll. The Chazon Ish and others argue and allow a boss to fire any employee who is not under contract. Wherever possible, one should be Machmir like Rav Moshe Zt"l.

(emphases his)

Is this prohibition actionable in Beit Din by someone who believes that he was unjustly fired by an employer who's also an observant Jew? How would one go about bringing such a case to Beit Din?

The type of case I have in mind: A person is being fired / demoted at the age of 66, one year away from retirement. This person has had no verbal or written reprimands, and, in fact, has received bonuses every year for good work. Both the employee and employer are observant Jews.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Could you please edit to explain why you think the employee could take the employer to Beit Din, and what the case would be? – Scimonster Jul 21 '15 at 7:21
  • Employee is essentially being forced into early retirement because he is a senior manager and not employable elsewhere at the age of 66. Furthermore, no reason for termination has been given – yagoodi Jul 21 '15 at 8:00
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    @yagoodi Careful that this isn't a request for psak (RFP). The details of your question are VERY specific. Regardless, why couldn't the employee go to B"D? The worst that could happen is that they disagree with the assessment. Thing is, AFAIK there's no discussion/halachic source for age discrimination, so at best this would be a violation of acting dishonestly (והייתם נקיים ), but CYLOR. – Isaac Kotlicky Jul 21 '15 at 8:06
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    @Scimonster I think the part you edited into the question is really an answer. – Daniel Jul 21 '15 at 12:19
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    Were you quoting that from here? It looks like a lot of the same words.... (cc @Scimonster) – Shokhet Jul 21 '15 at 13:27
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He could try, but I doubt he'd get very far.

Rabbi Michael Broyde has written and spoken about this. Unless otherwise specified, we assume agreements are done k'minhag hamedina, according to the prevailing local practice. In the US, at least, employment is generally "at-will", which means a worker can be laid off with not justification needed.

The one exception is a longstanding tradition we have regarding severance pay for jobs of a religious nature, e.g. a rabbi or Judaics teacher. (Brisman vs. HAFTR addressed this, especially as the teacher's contract stipulated that the Beth Din of America would handle disputes. The Beth Din ruled that halacha stipulates strong employment protection for Judaics teachers, and on appeal, the courts upheld that as an arbitration agreement.)

Here's the contact info for the Beth Din of America; but absent anything stipulated, unless the job title is religious in nature, I doubt anything would come of it.

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    The OP hasn't stated this is the USA. Looking things up retirement age in the USA is 66 at present, but in Israel is 67. So maybe this is Israel? – CashCow Jul 21 '15 at 14:12
  • yes, it is Israel. Good call – yagoodi Jul 21 '15 at 14:43

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