Special education teacher and prominent Imam claims religious discrimination, wrongful termination
NEWARK, N.J. (Nov. 19, 2014) – Legal discovery continues in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by prominent Newark Muslim leader Mustafa El-Amin against the Newark Board of Education and former Newark Central High Principal and current Newark Mayor Ras Baraka among other defendants. The five count lawsuit, filed by Ryan Linder, Esq., alleges that El-Amin was denied a previously granted religious accommodation and wrongfully terminated because of his religious beliefs.
El-Amin, a New Jersey native with a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University, had been an employee of the Newark Board of Education since 1983, serving most recently as a tenured special education teacher. Outside of his employment, El-Amin is the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim, one of New Jersey’s largest mosques and is regarded as a leader of New Jersey’s Muslim community.
According to the lawsuit, prior to transferring to Newark Central High, El-Amin requested and was granted a religious accommodation that allowed him to attend Al Jumu’ah, a weekly Muslim religious service, every Friday afternoon. Aside from enabling him to observe his faith, as a cancer survivor, El-Amin also found the weekly services to be therapeutic.
Upon arrival at Central High in 2010, El-Amin complained about inadequate staffing levels for the autistic students he taught. He also asked for the religious accommodation to attend weekly services. According to the lawsuit, El-Amin was denied the religious accommodation and was instead subjected to retaliation, religious discrimination and harassment.
Among the allegations in the lawsuit, defendant Sheila Larenceau, who served as El-Amin’s supervisor, besmirched El-Amin’s reputation among his colleagues and belittled his religious beliefs. According to the lawsuit, Larenceau told two of El-Amin’s fellow teachers that he did not want to do any work because he was solely concerned with that “Muslim stuff.”
When El-Amin complained to then-principal Baraka, his religious accommodation was again denied, according to the lawsuit. Faced with choosing between his faith and his job, El-Amin resigned his position in 2012.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for lost income as well as physical, mental and emotional distress. Copies of the complaint are available for download here and at www.lawsuitpressrelease.com.