Muslim college worker wins appeal to have personnel reprimand erased

December 8, 2005

A William Paterson University employee won an appeal this week to have a letter removed from his permanent file that reprimanded him for sending an e-mail to a professor condemning homosexuality.

Jihad Daniel, a graduate student and campus employee, sent the head of the women’s studies department a one-paragraph note last March. He complained about a mass e-mail she sent announcing an on-campus showing of a film about a lesbian relationship.

Daniel, who is Muslim, e-mailed the professor asking not to be included in any further announcements about events involving homosexuality.

“These are perversions,” Daniel wrote the professor. “The absence of God in higher education brings on confusion. That is why in these classes the Creator of the heavens and the earth is never mentioned.”

The professor filed a complaint, and officials on the Wayne campus found Daniel guilty in June of violating state discrimination and harassment regulations. A formal reprimand from William Paterson President Arnold Speert was placed in Daniel’s employment file.

The case gained national attention when the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based civil rights group, stepped in to help Daniel appeal the reprimand.

Daniel, 63, was told Tuesday he won his appeal, and the letter would be removed. He was, however, verbally reprimanded for sending a personal e-mail while at work.

“Nobody should have to go through what Mr. Daniel did merely for expressing religious beliefs in a nonviolent and non-threatening way,” David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said in a statement. “The harassment charge was ridiculous from the beginning, and the many attempts to pass the buck on upholding the First Amendment were deplorable.”

Campus officials declined to comment on the case.

“We don’t discuss personnel matters,” said Stuart Goldstein, a William Paterson University spokesman.

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