Toni Richardson, a special needs educational technician in Augusta, Maine, was threatened to be disciplined and potentially fired for telling a fellow employee, with whom she also goes to church, that she would pray for him.
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Educational Technician Threatened for Saying “I’ll Pray for You”
Toni Richardson is an educational technician at Cony High School in Augusta, Maine. Her work in the special needs classroom can be very demanding, but she loves it. A colleague, with whom Toni attends church, was new to the job and found it overwhelming.
One day, after the students had left the classroom and it was just the two of them, Toni tried encouraging her colleague, letting him know that she was praying for him. He thanked her for the encouraging gesture.
Soon after, when talking to the HR director for the Augusta School Department, Toni was asked whether she had ever told someone at school that she was praying for them. She was shocked, but admitted that she had. The HR representative said Toni had violated the law and warned her never to do it again.
Toni also received a coaching memorandum informing her that she had violated the First Amendment and admonishing her to make “no reference to [her] spiritual or religious beliefs” while at school. And, if she did, the memo said, she could face additional discipline or even dismissal.
Last month, First Liberty, along with our co-counsel at the Maine law firm of Eaton Peabody, filed a charge of religious discrimination and retaliation with the EEOC. The law is pretty clear: school employees are not required to hide their faith from each other while on campus.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting Religious Liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.
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