Lawsuit alleges professor at New Jersey college failed student for being Muslim

AP logo
Thursday, May 25, 2017
new jersey news

CRANFORD, New Jersey -- A student is suing a New Jersey college, claiming her professor gave her an F in a course because she is Muslim.

Sahna ElBanna alleged in the lawsuit that she endured a spring 2016 semester of Union County College professor Toby Grodner making derogatory comments that all Muslims were terrorists, but ElBanna didn't say anything to then, reported.

She received a B-plus in that class.

ElBanna signed up for a second class with Grodner - Principals of Marketing - in the fall because she needed the course to graduate, according to her lawyer, Tariq Hussain.

The professor made more comments about Muslims, and ElBanna asked her to stop, according to the lawsuit. Grodner responded defensively and asked questions about her religion, the lawsuit said.

"Doesn't your religion believe men are superior to women?" Grodner asked ElBanna, according to the lawsuit.

"Do you even pray five times a day?" the professor asked her in another instance, the lawsuit said.

Grodner did not respond to messages seeking comment Thursday.

Bernard Lenihan, a spokesman for the college, said it is investigating a complaint ElBanna filed against the professor. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In January, ElBanna discovered she received an F in the course despite receiving two A's on assignments worth 60 percent of her grade, the lawsuit said. Grodner confirmed ElBanna received an A on her midterm and final, according to the suit, but she said ElBanna received F's on several multimedia assignments.

"She was robbed of her dignity in the classroom," the lawsuit stated.

ElBanna tried to appeal her grade, but college policy requires an instructor signature on the appeal form. Grodner refused twice, according to the lawsuit. The dean did not get involved because the appeal lacked Grodner's signature.

ElBanna's grade could delay her graduation, according to her lawyer. Hussain said she would have to pay to make up the course.

ElBanna is still a student at the college, and she has passed all her other classes, the attorney said.