El Al's “High Heel-Gate” could become the subject of a government investigation, reports said Tuesday.
A government office that deals with equal work opportunities for women is reportedly seeking to get top officials in the Economy Ministry involved in quashing demands by Israel's national airline that female flight attendants be required to wear high heels.
The Ombudsman for Equal Opportunity in the Workplace sent a letter to El Al chairman David Maimon seeking “explanations” on the company's new policy.
“This kind of demand smacks of discrimination, as it places specific requirements on one group of workers,” the group said.
The new El Al work condition was first reported by daily Yedioth Ahronoth two weeks ago, and since then has become a cause celebré for women's rights groups around the world.
Unions representing the flight attendants said that they rejected the demand and that they had sought to have it canceled – so far to no avail. Several MKs have also demanded that the company drop the demand, but El Al has remained steadfast, claiming that it was an image issue.
On Monday, Economy Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) weighed in on the issue, taking the attendants' side, and on Tuesday, the Tel Aviv branch of the Ombudsman's Office, which is a division of the Ministry, sent a letter to Maimon demanding information on the order.
“From the reports we have received it appears that the attendants are being asked to wear high heels, at least until the passengers are seated,” the letter said. “This seems to us to be an unfair and discriminatory policy,” and that legally, such a demand could constitute discrimination, as it applies only to women – with the company liable to the requisite legal penalties.
El Al has not yet responded to Tuesday's letter, the Yedioth report said.