- Herman has vehemently disputed removing a hijab from a student’s head through her legal counsel.
- According to the lawsuit, Muhammad allegedly made use of the teacher’s private Facebook profile images.
- CAIR demanded that the teacher be fired in a news release on October 8, 2021.
The New Jersey teacher who was the target of a criminal probe after an Olympian claimed she had removed a hijab from a child’s head has filed a lawsuit, alleging the social media tempest destroyed her teaching career and resulted in threats against her life.
After Ibtihaj Muhammad posted about the hijab charge on social media, Tamar Herman, a seasoned teacher with the South Orange-Maplewood School District, claims in court documents that she was put on administrative leave, forced to leave her house, and needed police protection.
According to court records, Muhammad, a Maplewood resident and Olympic fencing medallist from 2016 claimed in a post on social media that a teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood “forcefully removed the hijab of a second-grade kid.”
Herman has vehemently disputed removing a hijab from a student’s head through her legal counsel.
A request for comment regarding the case was not immediately answered by Muhammad.
The lawsuit, which was submitted on October 5 in Union County Superior Court, also names CAIR, a non-profit Muslim organisation, as a defendant. It alleges that CAIR’s executive director Selaedin Maksut gave a defamatory interview on “Good Morning America” and tweeted that Herman ought to lose her teaching position.
Maksut wrote in an email on Tuesday that she was unable to comment on specific claims because lawyers have not yet had a chance to analyse Herman’s complaint.
The student had the undisputed constitutional right to cover her hair for religious reasons without intervention from the government or public humiliation, Maksut stated.
Muhammad, an Olympian with a sizable social media following, is also accused in the lawsuit of “knowingly, intentionally, and willfully (posting) false and injurious allegations about Herman.”
According to the lawsuit, Muhammad allegedly made use of the teacher’s private Facebook profile images.
According to the lawsuit, “Herman had her reputation impugned, she was threatened with threats to her physical safety, she was mercilessly bullied and ridiculed, she was shamed in local and national news articles, and she was humiliated in front of her community as a result of the defendants’ fabricated claims.”
The lawsuit claims that on October 6, 2021, the incident happened as Herman’s second-grade class “was heavily engaged in a writing workshop assignment.” According to the lawsuit, Herman saw a student whose hood was covering her eyes, and she assumed the kid was wearing a hijab because of this.
Herman “intended to encourage the student to engage in her schoolwork as her eyes were partially obstructed by the hood, (requested) the student to brush back her hood,” according to the lawsuit, which adds that the kid didn’t comply with his request.
Herman claims that after pulling the hood back herself, the woman replaced the hijab and offered her apology after realising the child wasn’t wearing it. The suit claims, “The hood never left the student’s head, and the classroom learning proceeded as normal.”
Herman, however, asserts that she was brought into the principal’s office on October 7, 2021, and informed that the student’s mother had complained. The lawsuit claims that Herman was put on administrative leave the next day.
The lawsuit claims that almost a year has passed and that Herman is still on administrative leave with her employment status best described as “in limbo” as a result of Muhammad and CAIR’s slander and the uproar it caused.
Muhammad’s social media post from October 7 allegedly “led to a rush of complaints to the district from hundreds of people,” some of whom made crude and ominous remarks, according to the lawsuit.
When CAIR “turned a little contact that would have settled in favour of Herman into a national news event that devastated Herman’s life and from which she has not recovered,” the suit claims that the outrage was “amplified.”
CAIR demanded that the teacher be fired in a news release on October 8, 2021.
“We demand the immediate dismissal of the Maplewood instructor who removed the headscarf of a young Muslim kid,” CAIR said. “It’s unfathomable that a teacher would add to the misery of Muslim students, who already struggle with bullying from peers,”
Herman claims that in addition to Muhammad’s and CAIR’s comments, her humiliation was increased when her former childhood rabbi criticised her on Facebook and Governor Phil Murphy tweeted his thoughts regarding the alleged incident.
In the lawsuit, Herman claims that the school district sent an “anti-bias” letter to her parents and removed her from the classroom and put her on administrative leave.
The lawsuit states that the plaintiff “suffered and continues to suffer from emotional and mental harm to such a degree that she has had no reasonable alternative but to permanently move out of her home and, before that, had to ask for police protection and temporarily relocate in the immediate aftermath of defendants’ lies.”
Herman is still subject to “relentless harassment from strangers,” as well as bullying and derision in the community, according to the lawsuit, which claims that the negative publicity made it impossible for her to find another work.
Along with defamation, the lawsuit asserts an invasion of privacy and damages the teacher’s reputation by casting her in a false light in public. Muhammad and CAIR are also accused of damaging the teacher’s image.
In addition to compensatory damages, attorney expenses, and monetary judgments against Muhammad and CAIR, Herman is requesting punitive damages.