A former employee at the American University of Beirut, Prime Minister Hassan Diab is now suing the institution for over $1 million in retirement funds and severance pay, as well as compensation for delays to his payment, according to Al-Arabiya.
Feeling the crunch of both the pandemic and Lebanon’s economic situation, the prestigious and iconic university has been enduring its worst financial crisis in history.
This lawsuit, somehow puzzling at this particular time and from the country’s prime minister, comes at a very wrong time for the AUB that has now to suffer another major hit.
A hit that will certainly affect the whole academic institution, a pillar of Lebanon’s education.
AUB has already been seeking help to make it through, and its students have campaigned on social media to “Save AUB.”
Even after receiving funds in aid from the United States, the iconic education institution was still forced to lay off 1,500 employees just to survive. That’s how bad its financial situation is.
The university’s current precarious status is already affecting thousands of employments and students in Lebanon.
Despite that, the Lebanese Prime Minister decided to file a lawsuit against it, seeking a financial exit package from the cash-strapped university, according to Al Arabiya.
Before becoming prime minister, Diab taught at AUB’s Engineering Faculty and was the former Vice President for the Regional External Programs.
However, as being reported, Diab didn’t resign to earn an exit package nor was he dismissed to be entitled to financial compensation.
“Diab left AUB and did not resign, but he wants to be paid for his entire contract that expires in 2025,” said Joseph Haboush, Al Arabiya’s Washington correspondent, on Twitter.
In addition, he “wants his payment to be made in US dollars to a bank outside Lebanon,” two AUB officials told Al-Arabiya.
An AUB official commented that “Diab did not retire, and he was not asked to leave; he left on his own, and retirement or severance is paid when someone retires or is fired. Neither of these cases applies to him.”
In addition, according to AUB policies, a full-time employee cannot simultaneously serve in office, so the university offers an option of a maximum of two years of unpaid leave.
This move from the prime minister is raising many pertinent questions; mainly: Why is he now going after AUB? And why, if true, does he want the funds deposited in a bank outside Lebanon?