Lecturer's sacking 'not because of conversion'

By Jennifer Lipman, August 20, 2010

An Israeli lecturer in modern Hebrew who claimed she was made redundant because of her conversion from Judaism to Christianity has had her case of religious discrimination dismissed.

At an employment tribunal in Reading, Judge Lewis upheld Dr Tali Argov's complaint of unfair dismissal, but ruled that the academic was not entitled to any compensation.

Dr Argov had been working at the Oxford Centre for Jewish and Hebrew Studies for eight years when she converted to Anglicanism in January 2008.

Her husband, also an Israeli, had converted three years earlier and their children were baptised.

She later lost her job and claimed to have been ostracised by colleagues.

In March 2009, Dr Argov began
legal proceedings, claiming discrimination dating back to her husband's conversion.

Dr David Ariel, president of the centre, said Dr Argov had been made redundant for financial reasons and that there were major discrepancies between her contract and that of other staff members.

He had asked her to renegotiate her contract but she had refused.

Judge Lewis ruled that Dr Argov had been unfairly dismissed because she had not been properly notified of her right to appeal, because there was "unreasonable delay" in the appeal process and because the appeal process was "not conducted with appropriate or fair rigour".

However, he said that there was no reliable evidence that her dismissal had been "tainted by religious discrimination".

Dr Argov herself had told the tribunal that neither her conversion nor that of her husband had been discussed by any of her colleagues.

Judge Lewis added: "The alleged discriminator, Dr Ariel, did not know of [her] religious faith at the time
he made the allegedly discriminatory decision.

"Even if he had been aware…he would not have taken that as a material consideration."

The tribunal rejected Dr Argov's claim that she was dismissed because of religious discrimination.

None of the alleged discriminators were called to give evidence at
the tribunal, whose members ruled that Dr Argov had "made serious personal allegations that we reject, and that she has on occasion refused to acknowledge the plain written evidence which was before her and the tribunal".

Based on careful examination of the evidence and on the fact that they "found her to be an unreliable witness," they dismissed all of her complaints of discrimination.

Last updated: 2:09pm, August 20 2010