x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Supreme Court rejects religious bias claim by ex-teacher

Court throws out lawsuit by former Islamic studies teacher who complained that the Ministry of Education moved him to an administrative position at the Ministry of Labour against his will.

ABU DHABI // The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit filed by one of 83 Emirati educators claiming to have been arbitrarily dismissed over their religious affiliation.

The unidentified man, who taught Islamic studies, said the Ministry of Education moved him to an administrative position at the Ministry of Labour against his will, and that it was a job for which he was not qualified.

He demanded to be returned to his original job, be paid all of his financial dues and promoted.

The 83 educators, including teachers, headmasters and social workers, were dismissed in 2007 and 2008 from school jobs in Dubai and relocated to jobs outside of education.

They were first informed without a written decision, one of the teachers said at the time, and the education ministry "after a long while" issued the decision without providing reasons.

They claim they were dismissed because they were "religious men at the ministry" and because they were members of a social organisation for "reform and orientation".

They added they had "excellent" records of achievement in their schools, were highly qualified and were not given reasons for their dismissal.

The Ministry of Education argued it had undergone a restructuring and the educators' qualifications - one had a PhD in computer science - would be more useful elsewhere.

The Federal Court of First Instance rejected the man's case in December 2009. In May last year, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the dismissal was not legitimate and he should be returned to his job.

The Minister of Education then appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled managers have the right to move employees wherever they see fit - even to a different job in a different institution, and even if they are not qualified.

"Management, using its discretion, has the right to relocate an employee to a new place or a new job if the decision is in the public interest and would enable the management to regulate its facility," Dr Abdul Wahab Abdul, the President and Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court, wrote in the ruling.

"As a rule, a management does not have to reveal its reasons for making the decision [to dismiss an employee]."

But the court did accept the validity of the man's demands for promotion.

It is not known whether decisions were issued in cases filed by the other educators.

The court's ruling is final and cannot be appealed.

hhassan@thenational.ae