A leading figure in Ireland’s Muslim community has been awarded €7,500 by the Labour Court after it ruled he was unfairly dismissed by Trinity College Dublin from his role as a part-time lecturer in Arabic.
Ali Selim, who is also spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, had appealed the level of compensation awarded by the Workplace Relations Commission in an earlier unfair dismissal action he had taken.
Dr Selim had sought reinstatement to his formal role or alternatively the maximum award of two years’ salary which would amount to in excess of €18,000.
The WRC had awarded him €4,000 after finding that he was unfairly dismissed by Trinity.
At a Labour Court hearing last month, Dr Selim claimed he was fired from his teaching post due to a controversy which broke out following comments he made during an RTÉ appearance in Feb 2018.
The academic, who was represented by the Irish Federation of University Teachers, claimed that the university had contrived to make his position redundant after TCD Students’ Union had called for his dismissal.
During a Prime Time interview, Dr Selim claimed that female circumcision was acceptable in some cases. The lecturer, who had worked in Trinity since 2010, subsequently apologised for his remarks and said he condemns female genital mutilation, which is illegal in Ireland, in the strongest terms. He also claimed that his comments were misrepresented.
Trinity College denied that Dr Selim’s dismissal was linked to his Prime Time appearance and claimed he was made redundant as a result of a decision taken in Jan 2018 to create a new full-time post of assistant professor in Middle Eastern History for which Dr Selim had applied but was unsuccessful. Dr Selim maintained that the job description for the new post was designed to ensure he would not be considered the best applicant.
The university claimed that the lecturer’s classes were not a core element of any degree course and there was “insufficient student interest” in taking up his optional Arabic classes to make his teaching hours viable.
The Labour Court said Trinity failed to establish that Dr Selim’s position had become redundant. Trinity had claimed that two out of four classes given by Dr Selim were no longer being offered by the college while another was suspended because it did not fit into its programme.
The Labour Court ruled that a sum of €7,500 was a “just and equitable” award in all the circumstances.
Dr Selim said he is “thrilled” with the outcome of the hearing as it “confirmed my claim was genuine”.