What is it with the current obsession with shaking hands? A school in Utrecht has been given the courts’ blessing to sack a teacher who refuses to shake hands with her male colleagues on religious grounds.
The equal opportunities commission CGB earlier ruled in the teacher’s favour but the school decided to go ahead and sack her anyway.
The judges are careful to say that the sacking has been sanctioned because of a breakdown of trust between colleagues rather than her refusal to shake hands. They also say the woman was wrong to refuse to shake hands without attempting to come to some form of compromise.
But it’s hard to see what sort of compromise could have been reached. Shake two or three fingers rather than an entire hand? Wear gloves? Surely a nod, a smile, a raised hand are all polite and valid forms of greeting which could replace handshaking?
You don’t need to clasp someone else’s sweaty hand to say hello, especially if it makes them uncomfortable. After all, this is about teachers, not sealing a boardroom deal.
So why make all the fuss? There are, of course, far more insidious office greetings which should be stamped out.
These include the almost compulsory New Year and birthday kissing spree which has leads to many females avoiding going to work on these days in case they are forced to endure the fumbled embrace of their male colleagues.
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