Fired Palestinian instructor sues Chicago college

NEW YORK (JTA) – A Palestinian Muslim instructor fired from a Chicago college sued for discrimination.

Suriya Smiley sued Columbia College Chicago Monday in federal court after she was fired in January when a student accused her of making anti-Semitic remarks in class.

Smiley was accused of saying "I should have known you were Jewish by the size of your nose" during roll call, according to the suit. The suit also states that the college did not investigate the student’s claims before firing Smiley.

"The unsubstantiated allegation against, and subsequent firing of, Sue Smiley reeks of racism," said Kevin Vodak, an attorney for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Smiley, who was employed as a part-time faculty member in the Radio Department for 14 years, has filed a suit through the council claiming one count of national origin discrimination and two counts of race discrimination. It seeks wages and benefits Smiley would have received as a Columbia employee, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The suit also looks to reinstate Smiley with her position or receive pay in lieu of reinstatement.

Columbia spokeswoman Elizabeth Burke-Dain told the Tribune that the college does not comment on personnel matters.

Columbia, an arts and media college on the South Loop, has 12,500 students.

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