A lawsuit was filed yesterday on behalf of a Kentucky woman who says she was fired from her job at a public library for wearing a necklace with a cross pendant to work.
The American Center for Law and Justice, a public-interest law firm, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green, Ky., against the Logan County Public Library.
“This is a case where the public library system enforced a policy that is not only unconstitutional, but illegal as well,” Francis Manion, senior counsel for the ACLJ, said in a statement. “There is nothing wrong with an employee who chooses to express her religious faith at the workplace by wearing a cross necklace. In fact, her desire to do so is protected by the Constitution. Sadly, this local government body decided to act in a discriminatory and wrongful manner by terminating our client for wearing a cross necklace.”
The suit contends that Kimberly Draper, who was hired to work at the front desk of the library, was given a dress code policy that read: “No clothing depicting religious, political or potentially offensive decoration is permitted.”
Manion claims such a policy infringes on employees’ constitutional rights.
“It is … troubling that the local library system would have in place a dress-code policy that equates a religious symbol with being offensive,” he said. “We’re confident that the court will uphold the constitutional rights of our client and safeguard her right to express her religious beliefs in the workplace.”
According to ACLJ, in early April a supervisor told Draper to remove her cross necklace. Draper continued to wear the cross. After several warnings, the suit claims, she was fired on April 16 for refusing to take the cross off.
“It is unbelievable that you can be fired from a job for wearing a cross necklace,” said Manion. “That is exactly what happened in this case. The public library system violated the free speech and free exercise of religion rights of our client.”
In the suit, the ACLJ names as defendants the Logan County Public Library, members of the Board of Trustees, the library director and assistant director. The suit claims the wrongful termination of Draper violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and requests that the court declare the library’s dress code unconstitutional and illegal.