Oberlin Reaches Settlement With Ex-Professor Who Claimed Israel Behind ISIS, Charlie Hebdo Shooting
A professor fired from Oberlin College after sharing multiple social media posts targeting Jews and Israelis has recently settled a discrimination lawsuit against her former employer.
Joilynn “Joy” Karega-Mason, previously an assistant professor at the private Ohio liberal arts school, faced widespread criticism after The Tower news blog reported in February 2016 that she had published various Facebook posts espousing conspiracy theories, among them that Israel was behind the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, the 2014 downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine and the Islamic State terrorist group.
She also endorsed an image claiming the Jewish Rothschild family owned “your news, the media, your oil and your government,” as well as a video by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, in which he claimed that “there were many Israeli and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attack.”
After initially defending her right to free speech, Oberlin launched an investigation into Karega-Mason’s conduct and announced in August 2016 that it had put her on paid leave. She was ultimately dismissed that November following a vote by Oberlin’s Board of Trustees, which accused Karega-Mason of “failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty and failing to demonstrate intellectual honesty.”
The school maintained the decision followed an extensive review during which Karega-Mason “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.”
Karega-Mason, who did not apologize for her posts, in turn alleged that the school had engaged in unlawful discrimination and breach of contract. In a lawsuit filed in federal court on November 2018, she claimed to have suffered “mental anguish, mental shock, humiliation and embarrassment and the loss of enjoyment of some of the ordinary pleasure of life,” and sought more than $885,000 in damages.
She accused Oberlin of instigating false charges of professional misconduct and soliciting student complaints against her, attempting to remove African-American decision makers from positions of authority, and ignoring the misconduct of male and white female Oberlin faculty and staff, among other alleged violations.
Her case docket was updated on Friday to reflect that she and Oberlin had reached a settlement whose “material terms” were not publicly disclosed.
Scott Wargo, a spokesperson for Oberlin, said on Thursday that the college had no comment on the matter.
Gary Benjamin, Karega-Mason’s attorney, did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment by press time, but told the news site cleveland.com that “he and his client were happy the lawsuit was resolved.”