A federal judge has ruled that a Kentucky library's dress code that prevented a Christian employee from wearing a cross necklace was an unconstitutional violation of free-speech rights, according to a Charisma News Service story. Kimberly Draper was fired from the library in Logan County in April 2001 after she refused to take off the pendant. She filed a suit in February 2002, challenging a library policy that read: "No clothing depicting religious, political, or potentially offensive decoration is permitted."
In his ruling two weeks ago, Judge Thomas Russell said the library policy violated the free speech and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment. He noted that Draper's wearing of her cross was "neither disruptive nor controversial until the library dress code made it a source of contention." Frank Manion, Draper's attorney, said the ruling "underscores the fact that employees have constitutional rights to express their faith in the workplace" as long as it doesn't interfere with the work setting.
"This decision sends an important message that employers cannot discriminate against employees who choose to express their religious beliefs in the workplace," said Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. Draper did not ask for reinstatement to her library job, but was seeking monetary damages.
(Religion Today Summaries, 9-8-03)