Tuesday, July 21, 2015

6th Circuit: School Had Non-Retaliatory Reason To Fire Imam From Instructional Assistant Job

In Haji v. Columbus City Schools, (6th Cir., July 16, 2015), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that while a prima facie case of First Amendment retaliation was made out by a Somali Muslim imam who was fired from his position as an instructional assistant in the Columbus, Ohio public schools, his suit should be dismissed because the school system showed a non-retaliatory reason for his termination. Plaintiff Abdurahman Haji claims that he was dismissed because of remarks he made at his mosque-- captured on a YouTube video-- criticizing the school system for exposing Muslim students to the polytheistic belief system of Greek mythology.  However the court found that the dismissal was justified because of Haji's leaving early on Friday's to attend mosque services, in violation of the school's attendance policy which was enforced against Haji after the controversial video was discovered.  The court also rejected Haji's Title VII religious discrimination claim growing out of his termination and earlier disciplinary action taken against him for his criticism of actions by students that he considered inconsistent with Islam. Middle East Forum blog discussed the decision.