Former realtor fired over Muslim cartoon sign now in mediation with RE/MAX

David Yates May 9, 2011, 9:00am

RE/MAX and former real estate agent John Caffery, who made local headlines in March 2006 when he posted a Muslim cartoon sign in his yard in Beaumont, are in mediation this week.

Caffery filed a libel suit against RE/MAX of Texas and RE/MAX of Beaumont on March 5, 2007, in Jefferson County District Court, claiming the real estate company sullied his repetition and wrongly fired him.

In 2006, an international controversy was started when a Danish newspaper ran what some considered to be anti-Muslim cartoons.

U.S. newspapers chose not to run the cartoons, which depicted the Prophet Mohammed in caricature.

According to local media reports at the time, Caffery thought the American press was acting like cowards, and couldn't understand why they omitted the cartoons but reported on the rioting that followed their publication.

He said newspapers were not giving the public all of the information they needed to understand, so he took matters into his own hands by erecting a large sign displaying one of the cartoons in the front yard of his home.

Caffery at the time said he wanted his community to know that the rioting, violence and condemnation of the United States was because of a cartoon.

However, RE/MAX of Texas sent a letter to RE/MAX of Beaumont, Caffery's employer, voicing its concern.

"It has been brought to our attention that Caffery ... has been making his political views a platform for attention in our area," the letter states. "He has sent letters on RE/MAX stationery for customers voicing his beliefs regarding religious and political opinion.

"He has also put a sign in his yard referencing his being a realtor and depicting cartoons that have appeared on the Internet. This radical behavior is a reflection on all RE/MAX offices in our area and we are extremely concerned."

Shortly after the letter was received, Caffery was terminated, court papers say.

In his suit, Caffery contends the letter was libelous and damaged his good reputation.

He also contends his termination violated his contract with RE/MAX.

If the parties fail to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial on Thursday, May 12, according to a court official.

RE/MAX of Texas is represented by Charles El Moussa, its general counsel and chief operating officer.

Beaumont attorney John Johnson represents RE/MAX of Beaumont.

Case No. B178-843

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