So much for those “progressive bastions” known as higher education institutions. Or maybe that title is reserved for four-year schools…
Officials at Kingsborough Community College were ordered to head back to school themselves – for a workplace discrimination class – after illegally firing a chemistry professor because she is Muslim. They’re also going to have to shell out $17,700 in damages and backwages.
The victim, 46-year-old Egyptian immigrant Hanaa Khalil, said the problem began when she first showed up to work after being hired over the phone in March. It took the Department of Physical Sciences secretary, Maureen Sharkey, just a moment’s glance for the job posting to go downhill, according to Khalil.
“She turned her face when she looked at me … she turned her face like she saw something real bad,” Khalil told the Daily News. “It was clear to me it was because they found out that I was a Muslim.”
Khalil said Sharkey continued to treat her “in a dismissive tone,” and she and others hassled her over identification, security and equipment reservations. Sharkey’s behavior was enabled by department head John Mikalopas, who at one point asked Khalil, “Between you and me, do you really have a Social Security number?”
When Khalil turned to the school’s human resource department for help, Mikalopas showed up with two guards, and told her she was fired.
Khalil hopes the school learns the costly lesson.
“I am hoping that I will be the last one to go through this at this school,” she told the Daily News.