Fired Oberlin College Prof. Joy Karega, who spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, amends discrimination lawsuit
Files First Amended Complaint after Oberlin College filed a partial motion to dismiss.
Joy Karega is the former Oberlin College professor of social justice writing caused enormous controversy when her anti-Semitic conspiracy theories spread on Facebook were revealed.
We covered the story initially, on March 1, 2016, Oberlin anti-Semitic rant Prof hosting BDS event this week.
We continued to cover as events unfolded on campus:
- Oberlin Trustees condemn Prof’s “anti-Semitic and abhorrent” Facebook posts
- Oberlin’s BDS-loving Jewish-conspiracy-spouting Prof. Joy Karega removed from teaching
- Oberlin Prof. who posted antisemitic memes says she’s a victim of racism
This all culminated in her termination, Oberlin College fires Prof. Joy Karega after antisemitic Facebook posts. The following statement was issued by Oberlin on November 15:
The Oberlin College Board of Trustees, after extensive consideration and a comprehensive review of recommendations from multiple faculty committees and Oberlin President Marvin Krislov, has voted to dismiss Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Joy D. Karega for failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty and failing to demonstrate intellectual honesty.
The dismissal is effective Tuesday, November 15, 2016.
As a Board, we agree with President Krislov and every faculty committee reviewing this matter that the central issues are Dr. Karega’s professional integrity and fitness. We affirm Oberlin’s historic and ongoing commitment to academic freedom.
During this process, which began with Dr. Karega’s posting of anti-Semitic writings on social media, Dr. Karega received numerous procedural protections: she was represented by counsel; she presented witness testimony, documents, and statements to support her position; and she had the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses testifying against her.
The faculty review process examined whether Dr. Karega had violated the fundamental responsibilities of Oberlin faculty members – namely, adherence to the “Statement of Professional Ethics” of the American Association of University Professors, which requires faculty members to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty.”
Contrary to this obligation, Dr. Karega attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process.
For these reasons, the faculty review committees and President Krislov agreed on the seriousness of Dr. Karega’s misconduct. Indeed, the majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin’s faculty, concluded that Dr. Karega’s postings could not be justified as part of her scholarship and had “irreparably impaired (her) ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community.”
In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community. Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.
9. During or about the period commencing during or about
March, 2016 through the conclusion of employment of Plaintiff,
defendant, Oberlin College, through its administrative officials,
including, but not limited to President Krislov and Dean Elgrin,
among others not named at this time, engaged in an unrelenting and
pervasive conspiracy to terminate the employment of Plaintiff.
10. The conduct of defendant Oberlin, through its agents
was done without cause or justification.
On February 11, 2019, Oberlin and the other defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss (pdf.) the Complaint:
Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with respect to Counts I,
II, and IV in part. As to Count I, first, the Individual Defendants cannot be held individually or
personally liable for Defendant Oberlin’s alleged breach of contract, and Plaintiff alleges no facts
supporting a theory that the Individual Defendants contracted with Plaintiff and breached such
contracts. Second, punitive and emotional distress damages are not available for breach of
contract claims. Regarding Counts II and IV, Plaintiff cannot claim that the Individual
Defendants are personally liable under Title VII as a matter of law. Finally, Plaintiff fails to
articulate a plausible claim for relief under the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1870.
A comparison report (pdf.) generated by Adobe Acrobat allows you to view the complaints side-by-side.
There aren’t many changes in the First Amended Complaint.
For Count III, Karega no longer claims a violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1870, instead claiming a violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1991:
So expect Oberlin to renew its partial motion to dismiss, addressing this substitute claim as well.
Depending on what the case looks like after the partial motion to dismiss finally is resolved, there may be discovery. While Karega undoubtedly is looking forward to digging through the college’s files, I have a feeling Karega’s files and emails, which will be subject to discovery as well, will be much more interesting.
We will continue to follow the case.
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