William Paterson University: Punishment on Harassment Charges for Response to Mass E-Mail

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: William Paterson University

A Muslim student-employee at William Paterson University (WPU) has been cleared of baseless sexual harassment charges. WPU’s shameful attack on 63-year-old Jihad Daniel’s rights began after he privately replied to an unsolicited March 7 mass e-mail from Professor Arlene Holpp Scala that promoted a viewing and discussion of a film described as “a lesbian relationship story.” Daniel’s e-mail to Professor Scala requested that he not be sent “any mail about ‘Connie and Sally’ and ‘Adam and Steve.'” FIRE first wrote in protest to the WPU president, only to receive a reply from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office which asserted that “Clearly speech which violates a non-discrimination policy is not protected.” After FIRE took the case public, Daniel was vindicated in a November 2005 ruling when the hearing officer had determined that the sexual harassment charge was “not supported” and that the letter would be removed from his personal file. Moreover, the hearing officer clearly stated that Daniel’s one-time expression of a personal religious belief was not “harassment.”