Academic fired over handshake

Handshake, job, business deal, contract, offer. Photo: Getty Images
The academic had tried to shake her hand with the knowledge that it would be inappropriate and was subsequently fired. Photo: Getty Images

A University of Auckland senior staff member has been fired after trying shake hands with a female Muslim student.

The ousted staff member then filed a complaint of sexual discrimination against her.

A newsletter from vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon directed to all university staff said the academic had tried to shake her hand with the knowledge that it would be inappropriate.

"He did this knowing that she would consider it culturally or religiously inappropriate to have physical contact with a man who was not a close relative," the statement read.

"When she declined to shake his hand, he made a complaint of sexual discrimination against her."

A formal investigation had established his behaviour had amounted to "serious misconduct".

McCutcheon said he had delayed advising staff of what happened in a bid to protect the privacy of the people involved.

"However, I believe it is important for all members of our community to understand that such behaviours have no place in the University and that if they do occur I will not hesitate to authorise appropriate investigatory and disciplinary procedures."

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