Contrary to News Reports, a Bank Teller Was Not Fired for Saying “Have a Blessed Day”

If you look at the headlines, you’d think Polly Neace got fired from her job at U.S. Bank just for telling customers, “Have a blessed day!”

Polly Neace tells WXIX-TV she said those words to all her customers. “I say ‘have a blessed day’ all of the time,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any better kind of day you can have than a blessed day.”

She’s filed a lawsuit against her employer, U.S. Bank, claiming she was discriminated against for her religious beliefs.

“I can’t back down from this. It’s the principle behind everything,” says Neace.

The stories certainly make it sound like that’s the only reason she was fired.

But if you dig into the lawsuit a little further, you see that her Christian blessing was only the mildest form of pushing her faith in the workplace. Look at how she treated one of her customers, according to her employer’s warning (grammar unchanged):

On Saturday, July 30th, a customer came into the branch to cash a check and when you asked for his signature he exclaimed “Oh Christ!” and you asked him “Did you just take the Lord’s name in vain?” and he answered you with “Jesus”. You again asked him “Did you just take the Lord’s name in vain?” and advised him that you wouldn’t tolerate him doing so in your presence and then proceeded to talk to him about salvation and telling him that it would be the most important decision he would ever make. You also quoted bible verses for him to read.

If you’re uncomfortable with someone taking the Lord’s name in vain in front of you, you tell your manager about the problem and have him or her deal with it. You don’t preach to a customer in response to an innocuous comment. That’s why Neace received a warning at work.

Later that year, around Christmas, Neace handed out “ministry cards” to her co-workers, prompting another warning from her employer. (The lawsuit mentions that Neace was told not to “discuss the subject of faith or religion with customers and co-workers alike.”)

And finally, the next April, after several incidents of customers complaining about her Christian comments and Neace telling her employers, “I might as well go ahead and tell customers have a blessed day,” they decided to fire her.

Neace wasn’t let go because she said a phrase as harmless as “bless you” after someone sneezes. It’s because she treated customers and co-workers like targets that needed to be converted, received multiple warnings to that effect, and ignored them all.

And what was her reaction to all that?

“I felt very persecuted,” Neace said.

That’s what Christian persecution looks like in America these days. It’s not that anyone was telling her she couldn’t be a Christian. It’s that they were asking her to do her job properly and take her boss’ warnings seriously. How dare they demand those perfectly-reasonable things from a Christian?!

(On a side note, I’m surprised by how this is news now, since Neace was fired in April of 2012 and the complaint was filed in August of 2013. That’s what happens on a slow news weekend, I guess.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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