Federal Complaint Filed Against Columbia College On Behalf Of Fired Muslim Instructor

(CHICAGO, 10/05/09) – CAIR-Chicago is filing action in federal court today against Columbia College on behalf of a Palestinian Muslim Instructor who claims to have suffered wrongful termination after a student falsely reported that she made an anti-Semitic comment in class.

Sue Smiley, a popular radio journalism teacher of fourteen years, was fired after a student claimed that she made the anti-Semitic remark to him while taking class attendance one day. According to the student’s claim, Smiley said to him, “I should have known you were Jewish by the size of your nose.”

columbia collegeA teacher’s assistant and eight other students were present in class at the time the alleged comment was made and confirm that Smiley never made the alleged remark or any anti-Semitic statements. Despite no evidence that any misconduct was committed, the college refused to conduct an investigation into the student’s allegation and swiftly fired Smiley. No witnesses were contacted or questioned.

“The unsubstantiated allegation against, and subsequent firing of, Sue Smiley reeks of racism. For the school to not investigate the veracity of one person’s singular claim before terminating Instructor Smiley’s job is malicious and irresponsible,” says CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak. “It is apparent that she was mistreated based on her Arab ethnicity and such discriminatory actions shall not go unchallenged.”

Vodak added that Smiley’s job performance evaluations as well as her student feedback evaluations have consistently been stellar and that she enjoyed respect and rapport throughout her teaching career.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued CAIR-Chicago a right to sue on September 23, 2009.

CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, 312.212.1520 or 630.935.5562; E-Mail: asharif@cair.com, Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, 202.870.0166; E-Mail: arehab@cair.com, and Christina Abraham, Civil Rights Director, CAIR-Chicago, 312.212.1520; E-Mail: cabraham@cair.com