A toll booth worker in New Jersey says it is within her rights to use a courteous phrase after motorists fork over their money – and she’ll fight her case in court if she must.
Cynthia Fernandez was reportedly told by a supervisor to stop saying, “God bless you” to people who drove away after paying their toll. She argues that her First Amendment rights are being violated, reports CBS New York, and that she refuses to be silenced by her employer.
“As they leave, I said, ‘Have a good day, God bless you,'” Fernandez said. “He told me he wanted to talk to me, that I couldn’t say, ‘God bless you’ anymore to customers because somebody might get offended.”
The mother-of-three has since quit her job, both because of her supervisor’s order and because she says she wanted a set schedule – something she didn’t have as a temporary toll taker on the Garden State Parkway.
Fernandez’s attorney argues that his client was expressing herself as a Christian and that her right to do so is protected under the Constitution.
“And if an employer is going to restrain her ability to express herself in that way, not say something based on her religious belief, not disrupting the workplace, that’s our concern,” said her lawyer, Greg Noble.
A spokesperson for the Garden State Parkway refused to comment on the lawsuit, but said there is no set rule about not saying ‘God bless you.’
He also reportedly said that Fernandez made no mention of this incident in her resignation letter.
Fernandez said she worked at the toll booth for three weeks and that none of the motorists complained after she used the word ‘God,’ reports Fox News. In response to the spokesperson’s claim, she says she was only following her supervisor’s rule of providing a resignation letter with one simple line that included the date she was leaving.
Fernandez reportedly said she is taking a stand for God. She is fighting for back pay with benefits and a cash settlement from the authority.