An educational technician at a school in Augusta, Maine has alleged she was reprimanded by her employer for telling a coworker she would pray for him in a private conversation.
Fox News Opinion recounted the story of technician and devout Christian Toni Richardson, who last year told a coworker she would pray for him because it seemed he was having a hard time adjusting to his new job.
Richardson and her coworker also attended church together.
After the two had a falling out, the coworker appears to have tried to use Richardson’s goodwill gesture against her. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, school officials fell for it hook, line and sinker.
After Richardson told her superiors in September that she was uncomfortable working with the coworker in question, she was given a “coaching memorandum,” which scolded her for speaking of prayer.
“An investigation of your concerns indicated that you may have imposed some strong religious/spiritual belief system towards Mr. (redacted),” the alleged memo provided by the First Liberty Institute read. “Stating, ‘I will pray for you,’ and ‘you were in my prayers’ is not acceptable — even if that other person attends the same church as you.”
The memo also stated that “additional actions that are deemed unprofessional” will be punished, possibly with the termination of her employment.
Since when is a gracious offering of prayer a punishable offense?
According to the article on Fox News, Richardson has contacted the First Liberty Institute, a prominent religious liberty law firm.
The firm, along with the Eaton Peabody law firm, have filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, arguing what took place was religious discrimination and retaliation.
“What August Public Schools did by punishing Toni for discussing her faith in a private conversation with a coworker is unconscionable,” an attorney involved with the case, Timothy Woodcock, said according to Fox News Opinion. “The law is clear: employers cannot discriminate against employees who privately discuss their faith while at work.”
Thank goodness Richardson is fighting against this. In fact, it seems Augusta School Department might just need some prayer themselves.
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